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Ecobank Nigeria Plc has launched its ‘Ellevate’ proposition.

The product was designed to provide access to finance, market and training to over 40 million female-owned and managed businesses as well as those that produce goods and services to women in its bid to stand out as the most female-friendly bank in the country.

The Managing Director of the Ecobank Nigeria, Mr. Patrick Akinwuntan, said during the launch of product that ‘Ellevate’ is the bank’s best gender-based proposition designed to empower women-owned and managed businesses in Nigeria and indeed across 33 African countries and beyond where Ecobank has its footprints.

Akinwuntan stated that Ellevate would also benefit businesses that have high proportionate female board membership as well as those that are manufacturing goods and providing services for women.

He said its objectives is to narrow the gender inequalities in entrepreneurship and unequal representation of women in the Nigerian formal business sector, adding that Ecobank earmarked N100 million to support the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

He said: “For us, Ellevate seeks to bring financial support to over 20 million female-owned, managed MSMEs in Nigeria. Add to it businesses that serve women and we will be looking at an ecosystem that is close to 40 million as our target market. We want to be the most female-friendly bank in Nigeria

“This proposition is a total package that will address the broad needs of women-owned businesses in Nigeria, including businesses that produce and provide services for women.

“Our objective at Ecobank is to be the leading pan-African financial institution driving the empowerment of our women, creating wealth, integrating our people financially and contributing to the economic development of the continent.

“Today, we are launching Ellevate to deepen our commitment to women-owned businesses.

“Ecobank’s elevate promises the women an end-to-end partnership in which they can gain access not only to financial services, loans at a discounted rate and fixed deposit investments at special premium rates, but also enjoy zero accounts maintenance fee, continuous financial education and capacity building, networking, access to markets on our online platform that will leverage on our digital payments.”

The Ecobank Group Executive for Commercial Banking, Ms. Josephine Ankomah, said at least 10 per cent of the bank’s commercial loans would be dedicated to businesses that are owned by women because “Africa needs empowered women to lead the change we want.”

The Executive Director of Commercial Banking, Ecobank Nigeria, Ms. Carol Oyedeji, said Ellevate would be used to educate women on several opportunities and platforms they could use to support their business.

She said: “The Ellevate proposition we are launching today has several levers. One is finance, where we offer significant discounts on lending rates to women because we realised that they put in a lot into their businesses and we should help them to grow. We do this in collaboration with several intervention schemes from the regulators within healthcare, creative industry, agriculture.

“We have a mandate to train 100,000 entrepreneurs in Africa and we want women in Nigeria to be beneficiaries of this scheme, which is a top-class training programme that will provide them with sound knowledge of their business to be able to access finance and markets. We are really ready to support women under this Ellevate project and I believe the best is yet to come.”

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