Sterling Bank

Improving capacity for agricultural lending in Nigeria

Country: Nigeria

Type of investment: Financial Institution

Purpose: Financing of agricultural businesses

Financial close: February 2019

Tenor: 4.5 years

Type of Investment: Balance sheet financing

S&E Category: F

Beginning of 2019 AATIF entered partnered with Sterling Bank by providing a USD 15m agricultural lending facility. Over the past 10 years Sterling Bank developed a strategic focus on the agricultural sector. The bank entered the financing of agricultural value chains in 2010/2011, becoming the first commercial bank to participate in various national initiatives aimed at promoting lending to the agricultural sector and smallholder farmers in various states across Nigeria. Only recently the bank was again selected as the sole participating bank in a governmental guarantee scheme focused on agricultural lending. The bank was selected due to its experience in the agricultural sector as well as its agent banking network. Over 22,000 farmers have benefited from this scheme to date.

Through these initiatives, Sterling Bank has become a comparative frontrunner in agriculture financing in Nigeria and had, at the time of the AATIF disbursement, an agriculture portfolio of around USD 150m. This was, among other factors, as a result of Sterling Bank building qualified agricultural specialist teams internally.

The bank continues to remain committed to the agricultural sector through continuously building internal expertise on agricultural lending, growing its agent banking network which reaches across the country and participating in various agricultural lending initiatives. With the facility provided, AATIF established a partnership with Sterling Bank intended not only to provide further liquidity for the agricultural sector in Nigeria, but also adding value through further growing its agricultural lending expertise.

Technical Assistance Project Highlight

Feasibility study for the implementation of a nation-wide radio station for farmers

Challenge: There are currently major barriers regarding lack of access to information on agriculture-related topics, such as crop market prices, weather forecasts, good agricultural practices, as well as on accessing financial services for smallholder farmers which in turn negatively affects their livelihoods.

TA Intervention: To design and develop a plan for the establishment of a nationwide Sterling Agric Radio Channel in order to enable smallholder farmers to access key agriculture-related information and increase financial inclusion.

Result: This project will equip Sterling Bank with a sound assessment and information on which management can decide on next steps towards the establishment of Nigeria’s first agricultural radio channel.

Agricultural portfolio

4 %

Agricultural portfolio as a percentage of total bank portfolio

agricultural sub-loans


Number of agricultural sub-loans benefitting from AATIF funding seasonally

Number of employees


Female employees


Male employees

Sterling has a workforce of 4,112 employees, comprised of 1952 female employees (47%) and 2,160 male employees (53%).


The TA Facility has supported Sterling Bank through the implementation of two TA Facility projects in total since 2020.

TA Facility Projects

Feasibility study nation-wide farm radio program

Dairy Value Chain Analysis

  • Figures are based on latest available self-reported data by investees and data collected by AATIF’s collaboration partners
  • Figures are subject to change as and when additional information becomes available
  • Figures reported here are not replacing rapid appraisals / impact evaluations that are done in addition