The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer (MD/CEO) of Access bank, Roosevelt Ogbonna, at the Grand Finale of “W’’ Initiative’s Womenpreneur Pitch-A-THON Season 4 in Lagoson Friday, Dec, 2, 2022 (NAN).

Access Bank Plc has unveiled the new W Branded Debit card specifically target at women.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the unveiling took place at the Grand Finale of “W’’ Initiative’s Womenpreneur Pitch-A-THON Season 4 in Lagos on Friday.

Launched in 2019, the Womenpreneur Pitch-a-thon programme is the first women-in-business support initiative of its kind in the industry offered by Access Bank’s W Initiative.

Dr. Ajoritsedere Awosika, Chairman, Access Bank, who spoke to NAN on the sidelines, said: “The Access Bank card for women is an innovation and the innovation is linked with identity and the identity is linked with women.

“Everyone globally likes to have an identity.

“Not just an ordinary identity but an identity that makes you unique and gives you an opportunity to spend in a unique way and have an assurance that you are recognised.

“That is the identity we are giving to women globally.

“With the WCard, a card meant for women , women of integrity, women who can go out there and stand on their own in the business world and for women who are able to walk in the lanes of integrity like access bank believes.”

On some of the functions of the card, she said it gives identity, builds esteem, ensures equity, enables women who have it to access numerous offers of the bank specially.

Earlier, introducing the W Branded Debit Card, Chioma Afe, Group Head, Marketing and Communications, Access Bank, said: “The Wcard is about empowering women.

“A survey was done on how women want to be differentiated, called and how we want to stand out in the market; that was how the idea around the female differentiated debit card was born.

“At Access bank, we already had unique offerings for our female customers, so why not a debit card? when you hold it, it is not just Access, it says you are female, you are strong, you are impactful, you are innovative and you are inspiring and inspirational.

“So, we decided to have a specially branded female Wcard.’’

Presenting the first issued WCard to the “first citizen of Access bank’’- Dere Awosika, Chizoma Okoli, Deputy Managing Director Retail Banking, South, said a lot went into the card before the team finally settled for a design .

“The card is special and shows that women are special. Created for every woman, with it , one can shop online and pay bills.

“It gives you security and is specially designed for every member of the W Community’’

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Speaking earlier on the “W” Initiative and Womenpreneur Pitch-a-ton, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer (MD/CEO) of Access bank, Roosevelt Ogbonna, said the programme had recorded tremendous success since the inception of “W” Initiative ,in partnership with International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group.

“It was a vision to support women owned businesses to catalyse growth for the economy and make Nigeria a better place by just putting women at the centre of the conversation.

“In 2006, we committed to President Obasanjo that we will make a difference in our market.

“Years on, we have many women that we can look back on, celebrate.

“Through this initiative, we inspire women, provide a platform for them to be mentored and we ensure they are empowered.

“We ensure they are democratised, they can access lending for finance through any of the bank’s existing platforms’’.

Ogbonna highlighted that access to lending was not the only significant difficulty women faced in running businesses.

According to him, network is also a critical challenge.

“It is about the network.

“So we created a platform whereby women can connect, where they can find their route to market. Engagements like this make it a reality.

“WCommuinty doesn’t just stop at finance, it ensures we create a platform to connect, to ensure you preserve capitals, creates structures, successive planning through insurance, planning among others to build and preserve wealth.

“We also ensure we meet you exactly where you are as you are, for women who are passionate and have a dream but looking for institution to catalyse that’’ he said.

The Access Bank MD/CEO said that for the 2022 Womenpreneur Pitch-a-ton, the shortlisted candidates went through a six-week intensive session.

He said that there were about 32,000 applications but 100 were selected.

He charged them to utilise the learnings from the training and allow them stimulate them for greater opportunities.

”We expect that the learning stimulates you to greater opportunities that extst. There were about 32,00 applications but 100 are here.”

NAN also reports that the programme , since inception, had provided mini-MBA to no fewer than 200 women entrepreneurs across Africa.

The year 2022 hosts the 4th season of the programme and seeks to provide mini-MBA certification to another 100 women entrepreneurs in Nigeria as well as grants worth over N16million to WSMEs.

Maryam Adebola-Salami of Mobaby Care Nigeria emerged first prize winner with a five million Naira reward. (NAN)