Sun Trust Bank Nigerian Limited has invested 250 million Naira to empower women in e-hailing business under the Women on Wheel business initiative that involves the bank purchasing cars and handing them over to the women as loans that will be paid back in 24 months.
The Women on Wheel business initiative which was launched in the bank’s business premises in Victoria Island, Lagos on Monday, saw some of the women receiving their car loans for their e-hailing business.
While speaking on the initiative, Managing Director of the bank, Halima Buba, said the bank saw the opportunity in the Small and Medium Scale (SME) business and decided to invest in it.
Buba spoke further on the reason for the business initiative: “ So, the first reason is because of my position as a woman and I have passion for women empowerment.
“For a start, we are beginning with Lagos. We are going to have 100 women in Lagos, 100 in Abuja and another 100 women in Port Harcourt. Going forward, we are going to go to all the state capitals.
“We launched 100 vehicles today and we have 100 beneficiaries. We didn’t bring all the vehicles because this place cannot contain all of them. So, we have just about 10 vehicles here.”
On the modality for the repayment, the bank’s MD said: “The repayment is for 24 months and they are supposed to be making payments daily into the account.”
She said before the end of the month, the bank plans launching the Women on Wheel initiative in both Port Harcourt and Abuja with 100 cars in each of these cities. Buba further explained that the initiative will be taken to state capital of each of the states of the federation. But for the other states, 20 cars will be made available.
One of the beneficiaries and a co-initiator of the programme, Oluwadamilola Olagoke, an e-hailing driver, described the project by the bank as very commendable and a life saver for many hapless women that want to be meaningfully engaged but lack the means. She said: “I have been into it for almost a year. I got in contact with Sun Trust Bank through a customer. I bring him here every morning and take him back in the evening and I have some other people that engaged me. So, I asked myself, how can I tap from this bank since I learnt the managing director and some other board members of the bank are women? I was sure they would be able to support us. We have an association, Women on Wheels and we have widows among us. It is a kind of women empowerment association.
“So I decided to speak with them. I met with Madam Raliat Oyetunde. I told her I needed a personal loan for the e-hailing and my other businesses. She told me that was a very good idea, that they will support and give us cars. She said that if they support us, I should make sure I support others, that I should empower another woman. So, we started working on it for over two months now. It was not a day’s job. So, meanwhile we began the process of registering our own association. We know that to relate with a corporate body, we have to come as a registered association. The bank not only accepted our request but gave us a 15 per cent interest rate, which is very reasonable. So, if your car is, probably, three million Naira, what you are paying on that three million Naira for two years is not even up to four hundred thousand Naira. They just said since they are also women, they want to support us and we embraced the initiative. We thank God that today, what looked impossible has become possible. At least the car I was using, I have given it to another woman.”