Sterling Bank Plc has launched a new product, “Sterling Women and Youths in Agriculture Finance,” code-named SWAY-AgFin, to provide low-cost financing at single-digit rates to young men and women entrepreneurs in the agribusiness value chain across the country.
Mrs. Bukola Awosanya, Group Head, Agric Finance and Solid Minerals Financing for Sterling Bank, who disclosed this in a statement in Lagos yesterday, explained that SWAY-AgFin was designed by Sterling Bank in collaboration with MasterCard Foundation. She added that the facility has a maximum tenor of two years and aims to grow agribusinesses in Nigeria with an overall focus to impact local production, improve employability for young entrepreneurs, and, ultimately grow the economy.
Awosanya noted that the SWAY-AgFin offering was available to entrepreneurs, who are earnestly seeking to scale the output of their agribusiness offerings, adding that the opportunity would equip beneficiaries with the requisite knowledge and skills in financial management and good agricultural practices while generating direct and indirect employment. She also described the SWAY-AgFin offering as a testament of the bank’s continuing commitment to agribusiness financing, noting that Sterling Bank’s various interventions within the sector “have been made possible with the support of partners such as the MasterCard Foundation.”
She said: “SWAY AgFin has become imperative because the effect of disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic has not only restricted access to sufficient and nutritious sources of food but has also slowed down cash flow to farmers and food suppliers.
There has also been a shortage of labour for production, harvest, and post-harvest activities. All of these have resulted in higher costs of food prices and disruptions in crop production cycles.
“The supply and distribution of agricultural inputs such as improved seeds, herbicides, and fertilizers to rural farming communities have been severely hindered in the wake of the pandemic.
Linkages between major cities in the various states in Nigeria have become difficult as harvested produce cannot reach markets and this has discouraged farmers from engaging in crop cultivation, leading to less production and shortages of staples.” Awosanya hinted that the product will help increase productivity in the agribusiness sector, while easing the devastating effects of the pandemic in the lives of youths and women, adding that MasterCard Foundation’s involvement underscores the commitment of the two organisations to the growth of critical sectors in the Nigerian economy.