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

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Zenith Bank started operating as a commercial bank in 1990. The bank is headquartered in Lagos and has over 500 branches nationwide. Apart from Nigeria, and its subsidiary in the United Kingdom, Zenith Bank has operations in other African countries.

Zenith Bank is a tier-1 Nigerian bank like — Access Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank, First Bank and United Bank for Africa.

Zenith has several products and services, suitable for both SMEs and corporate organizations — such as term loans, invoice financing and LPO financing.

Funding and types of business loans available through Zenith Bank

Z-Woman Business Package (SME Loans)

Z-Woman, is Zenith’s single digit loan product — for female entrepreneurs in the SME sub-sector. The loan can be used for a variety of purposes — including working capital, buying stock or upgrading business premises. You can borrow up to N10 million, with interest rates at 9% per annum. The maximum loan tenor is 2 years.

MSME Loans

Get access to the funding your business needs, with a Zenith MSME Loan. Up to N2 million can be borrowed, for up to 1 year. Interest rates are capped at 9% per annum.

Creative Industry Financing Initiative (CIFI)

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has established the Creative Industry Financing Initiative (CIFI) — to boost jobs and stimulate Nigeria’s creative industry. Businesses involved in fashion, ICT, movies and music — are eligible for funding. A loan for software engineering students — is also available. Interest rates are set at 9% per annum. Loan amount and tenor varies.


With a business overdraft, your business can borrow money — over and above what is in your bank account. Usually, the overdraft or borrowing limit is pre-defined, and you may have up to 12 months to repay.

Receivable Discounting / Invoice Discounting

This Zenith facility, enables businesses to borrow against their receivables (invoices). Any money advanced — will be discounted i.e. you would get a percentage of the invoices total value.

LPO Finance

LPO Finance or Local Purchase Order Finance — allows companies to borrow against confirmed purchase orders. For example, when a business has an order — to supply material to a reputable organization.

Import Finance Facility

Import finance is a way for your business to get funds — for the importation of goods and services. For example, you can use this facility to import raw materials or machinery.

Export Finance Facility

With the Export Finance Facility, Zenith Bank lends money to businesses involved in exporting products overseas — whether that’s commodities or finished goods. Funding can be provided at both pre and post-shipment stages.

Term Loan

A term loan from Zenith Bank, is perfect for businesses looking to borrow money — for a wide range of reasons. Depending on your needs, loans can be both short and long-term. Repayments are either balloon, bullet or in installments.


Leases provide support for the acquisition of business assets or equipment. For instance, instead of buying a truck outright, you may be able to lease it.

Bonds and Guarantees

Bonds and bank guarantees, are various instruments issued on behalf of customers — to support a selection of business contracts. These contracts may be for construction, supply or performance.

Syndicated Loans

Through loan syndication, Zenith Bank, in conjunction with other lenders — can provide businesses with very large, long-term loans.

Project Finance

Project financing is suitable for large, capital-intensive — infrastructure and industrial development projects. Funds may be provided by Zenith on its own — or Zenith in collaboration with other banks.

Qualifying for a Zenith Bank business loan

There are numerous different Zenith Bank business loan products, and not all of them would be appropriate for your business. Additionally, each product would typically come with its own lending criteria. Having said this, there are a few fundamental requirements — regardless of the product you are interested in.

One of the main requirements, is your business being profitable and generating a consistent monthly income. Another factor is having a good credit history — especially for those seeking loans without collateral.

Other general business lending criteria may (but not always) 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

Zenith Bank business loans and other forms of funding — are not reserved for individuals. This means that your business must be registered — in order to get financing.

An alternative, is applying for one of Zenith Banks’s personal loan or salary advance products. In certain circumstances, these products may be used for business purposes.

Another option, is to apply for financing elsewhere — with the help of SukFin.

How to apply for a Zenith Bank business loan

After having done some research, and finding a suitable loan product — there are multiple ways to apply for a Zenith Bank business loan.

You can apply via phone, email or by visiting a Zenith Bank branch.

No matter which way you apply, your business’s suitability for the credit facility in question — will need to be assessed. Also important — is the loan or funding purpose. These factors will both be taken into account, when your application is evaluated — against Zenith’s lending guidelines.

Should you be approved for financing, funds will be advanced — subject to you meeting certain conditions. These conditions would normally be laid out, in an approval letter.

Although non-Zenith Bank customers are welcome to apply, decisions are often made quicker — when the bank already has enough information on you.

Basic documentation 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. Not all of these documents will always be necessary. For example, unsecured loans do not require collateral.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

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

The length of any application process differs. Generally, the less information Zenith Bank already has on you, and the more money you need — the longer it will take for funds to be approved and disbursed.

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

Zenith Bank offers both long and short-term loan products. Repayment periods are flexible — depending on your needs.

How much can I borrow from Zenith Bank?

The size of your business and the purpose of the loan, essentially determine how much money Zenith Bank will lend to you. Having a decent credit history, may also allow you to borrow more money.

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

Applicable interest rates vary. Loans directly from Zenith Bank’s ledger, tend to cost more than government-backed funds. Government-backed loans typically feature single digit interest rates — often capped at 9% per annum.

Does Zenith Bank require collateral?

If you borrow smaller amounts of money, from Zenith Bank, collateral may not be needed. However, larger amounts of borrowing, commonly does require collateral — or at the very least an appropriate guarantor.

Acceptable forms of collateral or security can 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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