Sterling Bank Plc has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Nigerian Optometrist Association (NOA) to enhance capacity, reduce brain drain and increase funding for the health sector.
The funding component of the deal is expected to see the bank increasing its funding through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s support for the health sector and extending part of its conventional facility to members of the association at 20 per cent interest rate.
Group Head, Health Finance of Sterling Bank, Ibironke Akinmade, said the MoU is part of the bank’s vision to emerge as Nigeria’s biggest health lender.
She said: “We have adopted a community approach in engagement with stakeholders in this sector. This will not only give us leverage to develop tailor-made propositions for the community, but it also creates an inroad for engagement of their members through a cluster approach.”
Akinmade said the bank engaged the NOA to scale on its offerings to the health sector, which includes access to template credit, digitalisation (payment platforms and electronic medical records) as well as advisory services.
She said the rationale behind the partnership with NOA is to further position Sterling Bank as the bank of choice for businesses in the health sector, adding that this means more business collaboration and partnership with stakeholders in the health space.
She said the bank has earmarked N10 billion for the entire health care sector in the country and would accommodate any level of funding that members of the NOA may require. Under the MoU, members of the association will be able to borrow from the CBN’s intervention for the health sector at five per cent as well as obtain template credit from the bank within 48 hours at a competitive interest rate of 20 percent, which is below the prevailing rate in the banking industry, she said.
Since 2018, Sterling Bank has concentrated investment in five sectors of the economy under its HEART’s strategy in a bid to make an impact on the country’s economic development. The five sectors in HEART’s strategy include health, education, agriculture, renewable energy and transportation.
President of NOA, Dr. Obinna Awiaka, said the association wants a bank that would help its members to grow and discovered that Sterling is the only bank that has a passion for the healthcare sector.
He said the relationship between members of his association and the bank will build the economy because once the healthcare industry is built the economy will also be built.
Awiaka said the NOA is satisfied with the relationship with Sterling Bank because in no distant time the bank, in conjunction with healthcare professionals, will help to develop the sector, which will translate to a better future for the country.
He said the development will make Nigerian professionals that are leaving the country in droves return to the country to practice and this will reduce medical tourism among the country’s leaders.
He thanked Sterling Bank for coming on board and taking the bull by the horn to support the healthcare industry.