|“Our excellence, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the Board of Trustees andthe entire membership of our dear association, I welcome you to day two of the 3rd Nigeria Inclusive Finance Conference 2017.|
As you may be aware, the objective of this year’s conference seeks to achieve the creation of wider opportunities for microfinance to engage with concerns of stakeholders in finding ways to providing a broader platform for the rural poor to engage in new ways to accelerate economic activities in Nigeria. It is no longer news that as the Network of Non-bank Microfinance Institution in Nigeria, our members operate in every hamlet of our great country. Therefore, we are confronted with stack realities of what it means to ache out a living by the people we serve.
Our members are self-help groups, trade unions, CBOs, Financial Cooperatives and entrepreneurs in remote communities in Nigeria providing micro-loans to farmers, traders and artisans on a daily basis. The main demand of any one client or member of any such outfit is to access credit as a reasonable cost on a sustainable basis. The demand is clearly higher than the supply. Therefore, what really matters to the active poor is access, not cost. If cost is therefore not considered, the consequence becomes amongst others’ over-indebtedness, as one loan is being taken to pay the other in repeated cycles year in year out. Costs will not drop as long as access to low cost funds is absent. Institutions rely on mobilized savings to revolve at self-determine interest rates. Many microfinance institutions don’t sustain operations beyond the first 24 months. Most of our members don’t lend to farmers because of obvious risks.
Most of our members are not patronized by commercial banks because the banks require them to prove their concepts. Looking at the supply side, one will quickly say thanks to IFAD, CBN, RUFIN, NIRSAL and the various level of government with sporadic intervention funds. Above all of those, supporting the emergence of a nation-wide network in ANMFIN is the most significant step the Central Bank of Nigeria has taken to address the issue of lack of access to microfinance sustainably in Nigeria. Gradually the underserved and unbanked numbers are reducing.
A lot of work still needs to be done from the supply side if a significant shift from the subsistence to commercial agro-business is to be achieved. We must clearly speak and act out in support of a more robust microfinance policy that supports ANMFIN in her institutional development effort of self-regulation and provision of bulk lending to her members for lending to the active poor on a sustainable basis. For us, the leadership will continue to leverage on various partnerships and draw up lessons and various exposure trips to other networks in Africa and beyond to build a stronger ANMFIN that will make greater strides in financial inclusion in Nigeria.
This, therefore is our response to the needs to have an in-house fund that will hopefully address the critical issue of access to credit by our farmers. I therefore use this opportunity to call on all of us present here today to remember that financial inclusion effort addresses the fundamental issues of life, because with innovations, financial products can be developed tailoring into micro, small and medium enterprises. Farming is certainly going to change our fortune and farmer to finance is the only way to walk the talk.
Please speak out for ANMFIN and the mass of our unemployed youth and our women.