UK-based CDC Group has announced a $100m finance facility to First Bank of Nigeria (FirstBank).

The new funding will be directed towards Nigerian businesses owned and led by women and local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

CDC’s finance facility will allow FirstBank to offer financial solutions and provide access to capital to underbanked and underserved groups in the country.

A minimum of $30m will be offered to women entrepreneurs as a line of credit.

CDC, which will be renamed British International Investment in April, will also support FirstBank through a technical assistance programme.

CDC Group chief executive Nick O’Donohoe said: “Promoting financial inclusion is a key component for advancing sweeping productive and sustainable growth across both rural and urban areas in Nigeria.

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“This facility will channel CDC’s flexible and long-term capital toward expanding the financial solutions made available to women entrepreneurs, who are often the drivers of small business ideas and services to their communities.”

CDC stated that its partnership will leverage FirstBank’s network of over 700 branches and over 150,000 agents to increase penetration.

FirstBank managing director / CEO Adesola Adeduntan said: “Enabling financial inclusion for SMEs has been a strategic priority for FirstBank over the last 128 years.  Similarly, FirstBank has been at the forefront of financially empowering women-owned and women-led businesses on the continent.  This partnership with CDC offers a fantastic opportunity to accelerate the momentum.

“At FirstBank, we remain ever committed to fostering financial inclusion, creating wealth for the underserved, enhancing access to quality education and health care, improving lives and empowering women.”