Keystone Bank — how to get an SME business loan or financing

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Keystone Bank is a full service commercial bank primarily based in Nigeria.

The bank operates out of its headquarters in Lagos, and 154 other bank branches — spread across the country. In addition, it maintains subsidiaries in two other countries — Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Keystone Bank offers a mix of different business banking services — cut across commercial, corporate and SME banking.

Funding and types of business loans available through Keystone Bank

Trade Finance

For Nigerian importers, exporters and trading companies — Keystone Bank can provide a number of different trade financing solutions. The bank’s range of trade finance solutions cover both import and export finance. Some of the products on offer include bank guarantees, standby letters of credit, documentary collections, receivables discounting and more.


Keystone Bank can provide funding to companies engaged in activities across the agricultural value chain. Any loan offered is tailored to suit your business needs. Most of the lending funds come directly from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) — who have a number of sector specific intervention funds available. Through these CBN agriculture schemes — Keystone Bank provides loans at the single digit interest rate of 9%. In addition to the low interest rates — these loans typically come with longer repayment periods.

Distributorship / Dealer Support Scheme

Through this scheme, Keystone Bank supports cement distributors and telecom dealers. Any money lent, can help these businesses with their working capital requirements. Funds can be provided through a number of different finance products. For instance, overdraft facilities or bank guarantees. The amount of money you are eligible to borrow, depends on your trade capacity i.e. your business turnover. The interest rates are competitive.

School Support Scheme

Keystone Bank has designed a scheme through which it provides tailored finance to registered schools. These schools include crèches, nurseries, primary and secondary schools. Competitive borrowing terms are offered. This facility is not available to tertiary institutions.

Creative Industry Financing Initiative

Businesses involved in the creative industry, are the beneficiaries of this initiative. Eligible business activities include fashion, ICT, movies, music and more. This initiative is brought to you by Keystone Bank — in partnership with the CBN. Here, loans can be advanced for up to 10 years and interest rates are capped at 9%. Up to N500 million can be borrowed.

CBN Healthcare Intervention Fund

Nigeria’s apex bank (the CBN) has introduced a special intervention fund — targeted specifically at the healthcare sector. Businesses that are involved in any form of human medical care, are eligible for this scheme. This includes healthcare product manufacturers, service providers and distributors. Interest rates are at 5% until February 2021 — where after it increases to 9%.

Qualifying for a Keystone Bank business loan

To qualify for a Keystone Bank business loan, there are several criteria that your business must meet. Some of these criteria will apply, regardless of the credit facility in question — while other requirements may only apply to specific finance products.

For example, Keystone Bank has products that are only appropriate for businesses in certain sub-sectors of the economy e.g. agriculture. If your company is not involved in agribusiness, you would not qualify for this particular credit facility.

One general lending requirement, is having a profitable business — that generates a regular monthly income. Another lending requirement is your business having a good credit history. Although having a good credit history is not necessarily mandatory, when it comes to getting a secured loan, it is for those seeking loans without collateral.

Additional lending criteria may include:

  • Having a registered business or company — with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC)
  • Having a business or corporate bank account
  • Been trading for some time (1-3 years minimum)
  • Must have a good Credit Bureau Report — with no unpaid obligations or bad debt
  • Being an active customer of the bank

Keystone Bank business loans and other forms of financing, are not reserved for individuals. In other words, for you to get business financing your company must be registered with the CAC.

Those with unregistered companies may be able to get a personal loan, and use the resulting funds for business purposes.

Another option is to apply for funding with SukFIn — who can give you even more finance options.

How to apply for a Keystone Bank business loan

Before applying for a business loan with Keystone Bank — it is recommended that you do some research on the finance products they have available. This research will help you identify the most suitable funding options.

Loan applications can be made via phone, email or by visiting a Keystone Bank branch.

All applications will be evaluated against Keystone Bank lending guidelines. For your application to be properly assessed — you will need to provide details of your business’s trading history, its financial standing and the purpose of the loan. Together with any publicly available information — Keystone Bank will then be able to make an informed lending decision.

An offer letter will be issued after loan approval.

Some basic documents that may be asked for, as part of any application, can include:

  • Completed application form
  • Company profile
  • Business plan
  • Cash flow budget
  • Bank statements (12 months)
  • Audited financial accounts
  • Certificate of Incorporation
  • Valid means of identification (driving license, passport, voters card)
  • Proof of address
  • Details of collateral offered (if any)

Note. Depending on the credit facility you apply for — Keystone Bank may ask for more or less than above.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

How long will it take before receiving funds from Keystone Bank?

The time it takes to receive funds depends on the credit facility that you apply for, and the amount of money requested. In general, relatively small unsecured loan applications — tend to be processed and approved quickly.

How long do I have to pay back a Keystone Bank loan?

Depending on your requirements, repayment periods can be flexible. Both long and short-term funds are available.

How much can I borrow from Keystone Bank?

As a general rule, the bigger your business — the more you can borrow from the bank. This is simply because bigger businesses are likely to have greater turnover, and thus are more capable of making larger repayments.

What is the interest rate charged on a Keystone Bank loan?

The interest rates charged by Keystone Bank are competitive. Any actual borrowing rate, depends on your business and the loan product on offer. Having said this, single-digit interest rate products are available.

Does Keystone Bank require collateral?

Keystone Bank will require collateral — before most (not all) borrowing requests are approved. When collateral is not required, the borrowing limit will be much lower.

Acceptable forms of collateral or security may include:

  • Obligations of the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN Bonds, FGN Eurobonds, FGN Treasury Bills etc.)
  • Obligations of state governments or agencies of the Federal Government of Nigeria
  • Other non-government debt instruments
  • Physical assets e.g. real property
  • Third party guarantors (or collateral)

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