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Nigeria’s Sterling Bank Launches SWAY-AgFin Targeting Women, Youths In Agriculture

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Participants to an "agro-bootcamp", aimed at preparing young people for a future sustainably working the land, are seen cheer as a colleague uses a machete on a plant

Sterling Bank Plc on Wednesday launched a new product, Sterling Women and Youths in Agriculture Finance code (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, the Group Head, Agric Finance and Solid Minerals Financing for Sterling Bank, said in a statement in Lagos that SWAY-AgFin was designed by the Bank, in collaboration with MasterCard Foundation.

She said that the facility, which aimed to grow agribusinesses in Nigeria with an overall focus to impact local production, improve employability for young entrepreneurs, and ultimately grow the economy, has a maximum tenor of two years.

Awosanya said that the SWAY-AgFin was also available to entrepreneurs seeking to scale the output of their agribusiness offerings.

According to her, the opportunity will equip beneficiaries with the requisite knowledge and skills in financial management and good agricultural practices, while generating direct and indirect employment.

She also said that the SWAY-AgFin offering was a testament of the Bank’s continued 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.”

“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,” she said.

The Group Head said that the product would help increase productivity in the agribusiness sector, while easing the devastating effects of the pandemic on the lives of youths and women.

Awosanya said that MasterCard Foundation’s involvement underscored the commitment of the two organizations to the growth of critical sectors in the Nigerian economy.

She said: “The offering, therefore, targets youths and women who are involved in all levels in the agricultural value chain, inclusive of small-holder farmers who usually operate on one or two hectares, processors, input providers, and small-scale processors/SMEs whose businesses require cost-effective financing to help scale”.

She said the fund could be accessed on www.sterling.ng/swayagfin; stating that it was open to all, especially those who have keen interest in advancing agriculture by using technological innovations.

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NC Interview | African Startups Ecosystems

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Startups in Africa have become a phenomenon. The COVID-19 Lockdown encouraged many businesses to move online with the new normal of doing business virtually.

In the second quarter of 2020, African startups have raised more than $500 million according to Maxime Bayen of GreenTec Capital.

News Central had an exclusive chat with an investor and startup founder, Gulbet Kiros.

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Business Edge | Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA)

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Today on Business Edge, Tolulope Adeleru Balogun discusses the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) with Andrew Mold, Chief, Regional Integration and AfCFTA, Sub-Regional Office for Eastern Africa, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.

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Central Bank of Kenya Maintains Rate At 7%

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The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) has left its benchmark rate unchanged at 7% for the fifth time this year. This came at the end of its Monetary Policy Committee meeting. The current rate, the bank says, is having the intended effect on the economy from its initial implementation in March.

Central Bank Governor, Patrick Njoroge noted that Inflation has remained within the target range of 2.5% and 7.5% and is expected to stay within the range in the near term, “supported by lower food prices and muted demand pressures.”

Economic indicators show a recovery in Kenya’s economy in the second half of 2020. Exports have increased by 2.8% in the January to October period, compared to the same period in 2019.

Foreign exchange reserves have slightly declined and currently stand at $7,952 million, equivalent to 4.89 months of import cover. Despite the decline, CBK says that the forex reserves “continue to provide adequate cover and a buffer against short-term shocks in the foreign exchange market.”

According to the monetary policy committee, Kenyan banks have strong liquidity and adequate capital and the sector has shown resilience in these harsh economic times.

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