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FINANCIAL INCLUSIVENESS IN NIGERIA; ANMFIN MAKES GIANT STRIDES

The strategic importance of the African economy to the world can be glaringly attributed to the fact that the world or for wont of clarity the developed economies rely on African continent for its raw materials. For example, oil which powers the sophisticated developed industries are exploited in commercial quantities in not less than 15 African countries with major buyers from the west; ore resources in Africa are abundant and extremely so as other continents are beginning to experience depletion of ore resources; even uranium which humanity will have to contend with in the near future is touted to be in high quantity in some smaller African countries.

 

Looking at this scenario from whichever side of the divide will certainly reveal the amount of wealth at the disposal of the African economy, ironically, the wealth is yet to be evenly distributed to the citizens of the continent. Amongst the many challenges inhibiting overall economic development of the continent includes social and economical factor with the lack of banking or financial services to the majority of the population particularly at the rural centres standing as the Achilles hill of Africa’s development.

 

For the umpteenth time, access to banking and or financial services unarguably enhances the global competitiveness and improves the general wellbeing of African citizens as it holds promise for empowering many people to contribute their quota to development objectives either as an entrepreneur or a volunteer. You will agree with me that as banking services are in the nature of public good; the availability of savings and credit services to the entire population in the urban and rural centres without discrimination should be considered a human right issue.   

 

However, statistics reveal that the rate of financial exclusion in Nigeria is estimated at 46.3 per cent and at this rate it is believed to be the highest in Sub-Saharan Africa.    

 

Altruistically, the Central Bank of Nigeria, during its launch of its strategic economic plan titled Financial System Strategy, FSS, introduced the concept of Nigeria’s National Financial Inclusion strategy (NFIS) with the major objective of reducing this retarding financial exclusion rate to 20.0 per cent by the year 2020 as committed to, in the Maya Declaration of 2011.

 

In a broader definition, the financial inclusion strategy is an attempt to increase access to a broad range of financial services such as payments, remittance, savings, and credit at affordable cost and closer to the grass root. It is this calculated attempt to bring about financial inclusion in Nigeria that created the Association for Non-Bank Microfinance Institutions in Nigeria, ANMFIN.

 

In the words of the National President of ANMFIN, Hon. Giwa Afolabi during the sensitisation workshop organised for the north west zone in zamfara; ‘It may interest you to know that one of the cardinal objectives of ANMFIN as a child of necessity is to attract the required attention and recognition of the nation’s financial service sector players and regulators to the informal sector by repositioning the sector for effective and efficient service delivery to the populace. Prior to this moment, access to financial services by the common man especially those at the rural areas has been at a very low level. More so, the level of readiness of most of our members and potential members to explore government policy objectives and accessing grant opportunities are quite insignificant’.

 

The President further stated that to this end, ANMFIN has been empowered and energised with the help of the Central Bank of Nigeria and support of development partners to mobilise, educate and package its members to be able to access several opportunities particularly funding support programmes available in the finance sector for the overall welfare of the common man.

 

It is said that to whom much is giving, much is expected; from the foregoing, it is obvious that the task been committed to ANMFIN and the expectation of stakeholders in the microfinance subsector is quite high. Suffice to say that ANMFIN under the leadership of the National President Hon. Giwa Afolabi have demonstrated uncommon commitment towards fulfilling the mandate of ANMFIN and delivering on the key deliverables.

 

It is pertinent to mention that within three years of ANMFIN’s existence, the association has acquired fully functional and operational offices across the zones, and the ANMFIN headquarter in Abuja with a seasoned administrator in the person of Dr. Godbless Safugha as the Executive Secretary leading the pack of highly dedicated and efficient staff to manage the task of mobilising all the financial cooperatives, NGO’s and various associations in the country to affiliate with the apex body for the purpose of self regulation, capacity building, access to fund, and loads of other benefits.

 

The record success achieved by ANMFIN can be said to be astronomical, for example, the association has recorded over two thousand member affiliation in a very short period of time, attended and actively participated by securing exhibition stands to showcase the products of its members in various national and international microfinance activities amongst which are the D-8 workshop/CBN annual MSME conference, working visit to Ghana microfinance network and the savings and credit cooperative Africa congress, SACCA in South Africa.

 

Interestingly, the association having the full knowledge that microfinance is mostly focused on the grass root has enabled the leadership to commit to ensuring that the target audience are well sensitised about the developments in the sector. For this singular reason the association have mapped out a sensitisation workshop campaign for the six geopolitical zones in the country.

 

 

During the sensitisation workshop for the North West zone and official opening of ANMFIN’s zonal office, the association left no one in doubt of its capacity to mobilise their members and the friends of microfinance in general. For instance, the event witnessed the presence and goodwill messages from various state governors in the zone, the zamfara state chief judge, commissioners, representative of the Director, Development Finance of CBN, RUFIN and other stakeholders in the microfinance sector.       

 

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