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The Bank of Industry (BOI) has disclosed that it disbursed N26 billion loans to female entrepreneurs in 18 months. This was reportedly done to address gender inequality in entrepreneurship.

This disclosure was made by the Managing Director of BoI, Mr Olukayode Pitan while giving a presentation during a programme organised in Lagos by the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria.

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During the event themed, ‘Entrepreneurship for inclusive growth: opportunities and sustainability strategies’, Pitan gave reasons the bank was focused on balancing and providing room for both genders to grow.

He said this is because the Nigerian female entrepreneurs are more exposed to and adversely affected by the inherent challenges in the Nigerian business environment, making it more difficult for her to succeed compared to her male peer.

[READ MORE: N19.9 billion disbursed to petty traders under GEEP, says BOI)

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“For example, in 2015, BoI established a gender business desk to cater specifically for female entrepreneurs. In the last 18 months alone, the bank has disbursed loans in excess of N26bn to over 400 women-led enterprises with the potential to grow and create jobs that will contribute to economic development”, he said in a report by Punch.

Strategic partnerships: BOI also disclosed it had promoted female-gender equality through strategic partnerships. It said it constantly sought out and partnered advocates of women entrepreneurship and organisations that pushed related policy development in Nigeria.

Giving a breakdown of some of the initiatives, Pitan said the bank had facilitated the disbursement of N37.1 billion through the Government Enterprise & Empowerment Programme, creating 2.31 million jobs for market women, traders, artisans and farmers.

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BOI also had a scheme called Bottom of the Pyramid Scheme which was an on-lending scheme with microfinance banks as strategic partners. Through the partnerships with 54 financial institutions, Pitan said that N7.7 billion had been disbursed to 7,598 micro-entrepreneurs and an estimated 37,990 jobs have been created.

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