July 23, 2024

Access Bank partners SCIDaR to tackle financial challenges for 200,000 Health SMEs

Access Bank, a leading commercial bank renowned for its extensive presence across Africa and beyond, has partnered with the Solina Centre for International Development and Research (SCIDaR) to tackle financing challenges faced by over 200,000 health-focused Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria.

This collaboration, anchored by the Promoting Accreditation for Community Health Services (PACS) project, aims to bolster the supply chain, enhance productivity, and fortify the economic resilience of Health SMEs, particularly Community Pharmacists (CPs) and Patent & Proprietary Medicine Vendors (PPMVs).

SCIDaR’s Access to Finance Specialist, Mark Akpan, said the organization will strengthen SMEs’s capacity to be investment-ready by providing entrepreneurship and financial management training. This is in addition to business development services for a sustained relationship between the health providers and Access bank.

Access Bank and SCIDaR will address the challenges associated with lending to healthcare SMEs, leveraging the banks tailored financial products and services to enhance their expansion.

Among these offerings are products designed to cater to the credit requirements of health SMEs, while the Access Closa product empowers health SMEs to act as bank agents in underserved communities, thereby increasing their income and financial resilience.

At the MoU signing event in Abuja, Dr. Uchenna Igbokwe, CEO of SCIDaR, said, “Funding is critical for Nigeria’s health system. Insufficient funding has strained our health infrastructure, resulting in subpar performance on health metrics.

“This partnership with Access Bank is timely as it aligns with the government’s vision for the health sector and has the potential to strengthen health value chains and support our country’s GDP contribution,” Igbokwe added.

He further elaborated SCIDaR’s increasing focus on access to finance and financial inclusion within the health sector, driven by the significant unmet needs and the pivotal role of finance in achieving universal health coverage in Nigeria.

The CEO outlined the organization’s approach, emphasizing its six cardinal pillars: Research and iterative analysis, product development/adaptation, smart subsidies, financial literacy, technology integration, and sustainable partnerships.

The pillars are aligned with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, and 17, accelerating progress towards universal health coverage and economic development in the country.

Chizoma Okoli, Deputy Managing Director, Access Bank, said “In 2022, we launched a project with the goal of enrolling one in every two Nigerians. It’s audacious and we’ve attained outstanding results so far. We’re committed to providing access to finance for entrepreneurs in the transportation, agriculture, and health sectors this year.

“In line with this commitment, we have collaborated with SCIDaR to drive inclusion specifically within the health space. This partnership emphasizes our unwavering commitment to fostering financial inclusion and sustainable development across Nigeria,” he noted.

Njideka Esomeju, Group Head, Consumer Banking, Access Bank, assured that the bank stands ready to extend loans to health SMEs, empowering them to expand their businesses and efficiently serve rural communities. This not only promotes increased financial stability but also stimulates economic growth in the health industry.

Also speaking at the MoU signing, Chizoba Iheme, Group Head, Financial Inclusion, Access Bank, emphasized their dedication to expanding financial services nationwide. She highlighted the strategy to reach all 774 local governments, ensuring even the most remote individuals have access to finance.

“This endeavor is enabled through our extensive agency banking network, the digital platform connecting underserved communities to formal financial services. We envision an ecosystem where financial inclusion enhances access to healthcare, ultimately improving the well-being of communities,” said Chizoba.

She added that harnessing the network of Patent and Proprietary Medicine Vendors (PPMV) as agents will extend financial services to remote areas, ensuring broader financial inclusion and widespread adoption of digital banking within the healthcare sector.

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