VENTURES AFRICA – To supplement access to financial services by citizens and businesses in Nigeria, the Federal Government has announced the plans to launch a 220 billion naira ($1.3 billion) -Micro Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund (MSMEDF) before the end of the year. This will be used to create incentives for women and assist them secure long-term funding at single-digit interest rate.
The plan to launch the Micro Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund came at the heel of the National Financial Inclusion Strategy launched by President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday .
Speaking at a press conference on the National Financial Inclusion Strategy in Abuja on Wednesday, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Lamido Sanusi, revealed that plans to roll out a micro-insurance framework aimed at encouraging rural dwellers and the urban poor to buy insurance policies that can boost their financial earnings were at advance stages.
The apex bank Governor explained that when established, about 60 percent of the fund would be devoted to businesses managed by women at reduced interest rates.
“The fund that we were supposed to launch yesterday , which we hope to launch hopefully before the end of the year, specifically provides for about 60 percent of the amount to be targeted at businesses owned and managed by women, and the objective is to help them get long term funding at single digit interest rate so there is specific incentives there for the women.”
He explained that several Nigerians were excluded from the financial market as a result of where they lived, while others were excluded because of their income level, yet, others were excluded because of their gender, adding that the fund would accommodate these categories of Nigerians.
Lamido said the MSME Fund was currently at the stage where all stakeholders are looking at it and giving their own inputs into the structure.
Also speaking at the press conference was United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development, Princess Maxima of the Netherlands. Maxima said the financial sector would only contribute to Nigeria’s equitable economic growth when it engaged all the population and enterprise activities.
She said that the financial inclusion strategy begins with convenient, affordable and reliable ways to make payments.
“An efficient payment system is the backbone for many other services. And, then, savings accounts. All of these make such a difference for families, livelihoods and welfare. Meeting the strategy’s goals will require diverse financial products tailored for different clients in different contexts. And because we want diverse products, we will then most likely have diverse providers and means of delivery,” she said.
Maxima added that; “Merchants from Abuja to Zaria will all benefit from affordable quick ways to receive and make payments, while a small factory owner will benefit from lines of credit during peak production and long-term financing to acquire faster machines. The only way Nigeria can do this is to harness new channels. In particular, mobile money can play a very big role. There are already four times as many mobile phone towers as there are bank branches in Nigeria”
In a related development, the Commissioner for Insurance and Chief Executive Officer, National Insurance Commission (NAICOM), Fola Daniel, has said that the regulatory agency has reached final stages for a reliable micro-insurance framework to cater for those that have been excluded from insurance services in the country.
He said, “We have, indeed, taken due cognisance of the challenges the development of micro-finance will face in Nigeria. This point cannot be overemphasised considering the fact that microfinance cannot easily be sold using the conventional intermediaries – brokers and agents.”