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COVID-19: First Bank offers to support SMEs in education sector

First Bank has offered to provide financial support to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the education sector to mitigate the effects of the COVID -19 pandemic in the country.

Speaking during the bank’s SMEConnect webinar on Thursday, Bankole Adediran, head, transaction banking products, said the bank wants to help businesses in the sector sustain their businesses.

“FirstBank, as an institution, is very passionate about education, and will continue to support the sector,” he said, explaining that the bank has an array of financial products that could be accessed by SMEs in the sector.

Adeniran said SMEs can apply for the FirstEdu loan targeted at private nursery, primary and secondary schools to help schools achieve their medium and long-terms goals.

According to Adediran, FirstEdu provides funding advancement of up to N20 million for schools with a minimum of 100 students with school fees collection domiciled at FirstBank.

He also urged schools to learn from the COVID -19 pandemic by embracing automation to plug leakages in the education sector.

The bank recently launched an e-learning initiative aimed at reaching out to one million students across the country to ensure they would be academically engaged while at home.

It also donated 20,000 e-learning devices to the Lagos state government to promote online learning for students in public schools.

Folasade Adefisayo, commissioner for education, Lagos state, who was a panellist at the webinar, commended the bank for the donation.

Adefisayo said schools were not prepared for the situation and that most children in public schools did not have devices and data for online learning.

“This pandemic has been a terrible thing, and one lesson from it is that we have not invested enough in solutions we can deplore at a time like this,” Adefisayo said.

She, however, said that the pandemic had forced Nigerians to be more creative and innovative, adding that schooling would no longer be the same again.

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