By Moses Nosike

Divisional Head, Retail, SME Banking and E-Business, Unity Bank Plc, Mr. Olufunwa Akinmade has explained that the “raison d’etre for launching the Bank’s latest retail product called Yanga is to create a unique product proposition aimed at empowering the underbanked women entrepreneurs in Nigeria”.

Akinmade, who stated this during a chat with the media, citing a recent EFInA report, said that “there are 51 million Nigerian women above 18 years of age, with over 41% of the unbanked. Out of these figures, it is estimated that there are 14-18 million female entrepreneurs – mainly in the micro SME category”.

Recall that Unity Bank launched the women-focused Yanga account in November 2021 to promote financial inclusion and cater to unbanked women entrepreneurs across Nigeria in the MSME space.

Therefore, the new retail product is designed to deepen its beneficial impact on Micro Small and Medium Enterprises, MSMEs operated by women in the mass-market retail space.

According to Akinmade, “Recent research has shown that Nigeria has the highest number of women entrepreneurs in the world, with an estimated 40 million SMEs, of whom women constitute approximately 42%.

“These women have proved beyond reasonable doubt that they have the capacity to create wealth and contribute productively to the economy. However, a lot more needs to be done and it starts with empowering them with the right tools to harness this entrepreneurship potential.

“Currently, they face many institutional and cultural hurdles while starting or running their businesses. For instance, a recent report shows that only 22% of female entrepreneurs have access to finance against 34% of males.
“This is part of why we have introduced Yanga to bridge this gap while also narrowing the population of underbanked women entrepreneurs”.

Akinmade further explained that the Unity Yanga product will play a critical role in boosting financial inclusion and narrowing the underbanked women population as the account comes with a unique product proposition that includes an easy to operate and free to open a Savings account, with no identification required, customized debit card, dedicated sales officers.

He identified other unique features including special banking agents in each market location and quarterly Seminars at main market locations anchored by Unity Bank and its alliance partners.

“By rolling out this scheme across all geopolitical regions, Unity bank’s objective is to work assiduously towards reducing the huge numbers of underbanked women in the country,” he added.

A key part of the Yanga Product experience is (1) micro-loans and (2) HMO-offering
The micro-loan would be availed with time-tested Credit Policies, backed with technology-based credit scoring. These would help detect frivolous applications as well as reduce NPLs.

Yanga is available to all women entrepreneurs nationwide. The Bank is currently conducting market activations in strategic locations across the country with its brand ambassador, popular Nollywood actor, Sola Sobowale. So far, the Yanga activation train has been to Gombe, Akwa Ibom, and Ibadan and is currently in Lagos and en-route Port Harcourt.

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