Access Bank was founded in 1988 and, with an asset base of over US$11 billion, ranks as one of Africa’s 20 largest banks. Access serves more than 6 million customers from almost 400 branches in Nigeria’s major commercial centers, as well as 6 other African countries, China and the United Kingdom. Access Bank targets a variety of segments with its divisions in retail, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), commercial banking, and corporate and investment banking. In 2011, the bank received the Financial Times/International Finance Corporation (IFC) Sustainable Bank of the Year Award for the Africa and Middle East region. The bank has since won a number of additional national and international awards for sustainability.
In 2006, Access Bank partnered with the IFC to develop targeted products for female entrepreneurs, becoming one of the first African banks to to provide dedicated credit lines to finance women-owned businesses. Through its Gender Empowerment Program Group, Access also provided training in business and management; free financial advisory services; and assistance in the preparation of business plans, accounts and other relevant documents. In 2014, the bank announced its W Initiative, designed to inspire, connect and empower women in Nigeria. Benefits to women include access to a range of loan products and credit facilities, education on finance matters through the online W Community, and health and family programs, among a number of other services. The W Initiative also offers special support to women-owned SMEs, including mentoring services, capacity building and promotion of start-ups. The W Initiative has since been rolled out to Access Bank’s outlets in Ghana and Rwanda. To learn more, read our Case Study on the W Initiative.