Nigeria’s leading healthcare lender, Sterling Bank Plc and the Health Federation of Nigeria (HFN) have signed a memorandum of understanding allowing the bank to provide funds to further digitise the businesses of HFN members as well as provide them with financial advice.
At the recent signing ceremony in Lagos, Mr Obinna Ukachukwu, Division President, Health and Education Sectors, Sterling Bank said: “We are hoping to achieve digitisation, financing and financial advisory services for members of HFN. We have been working on it for some months now and the goal is to see how we can upgrade every healthcare operator from manual record-keeping to a digital system.”
In his opinion, Sterling Bank has always felt that one of the challenges for the healthcare sector is the lack of adequate documentation or the inability to maintain adequate records of operations, averring that this condition makes it difficult for financial institutions to transparently examine doctors’ books.
Ukachukwu said, “With HFN being the umbrella body for all the serious healthcare professionals in the country, it is better to partner with the group to drive a process like this because it is an accountability group that could help members learn from one another.”
He said, “We are trying to introduce transparency which will enable HFN members to have access to finance at different levels and we are optimistic that this would help scale up the industry.”
HFN President, Dr Pamela Ajayi praised Sterling Bank for its commitment to healthcare, noted that the bank was in the industry for more than 20 years through Magnum Trust Bank, which invested in a company, that was founded as an SME.
Magnum Trust is one of the legacy banks that Sterling Bank formed during the consolidation in the banking sector.
She described the MoU as another step in the right direction and a great step for all in the healthcare sector as Sterling Bank’s terms are exceptional. The terms would ensure that HFN members achieve their goals through this funding.
Dr Ajayi, Founder and CEO of Synlab Nigeria, noted that the digitisation aspect of the MoU is helpful in many ways as it would not only improve access to finance but also contribute to online health outcomes with global trends than any digitally inclined healthcare provider would and help them stay in business for a long time.
Dr Ajayi explained the mechanisms of the MoU, said that HFN is trying to give qualifying members access to financing at decent rates and accelerate their investments.
She also believes that HFN is interested in members taking full advantage of Sterling Bank’s efforts to provide opportunities for healthcare providers to gain access to ERM and HMS systems while benefiting from the bank’s financial advisory services.