1 November 2017

Nigeria: BoI Partners Gates Foundation, Others to Bridge Financial Inclusion Gap

The Bank of Industry (BoI), Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), have partnered to bridge financial inclusion gap and explore measures to eradicate poverty in the country.

Executive Director, Micro Enterprises, BoI, Mrs Toyin Adeniji, disclosed this when the bank visited the Lagos State Plank and Building Materials Market Association, in the company of the Foundations' directors.

Adeniji said that the partnership was to support the Federal Government's social intervention programme 'Market Moni' done under Government Enterprises and Empowerment Program (GEEP).

While Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation works with partner organizations worldwide to tackle critical problems aimed at helping the world's poorest people lift themselves out of hunger and poverty, GEEP seeks to deepen financial inclusion through provision of loans to market women, traders, artisans, enterprising youths, small scale farmers and agric workers nationwide.

On the other hand, CGAP is a global partnership of more than 30 leading organizations that seeks to advance financial inclusion and develops innovative solutions through practical research and active engagement with financial service providers, policy makers, and funders to scale up approaches.

"We are working in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and CGAP, to ensure that we scale up GEEP to the target that the government wants to reach.

"Our target is to reach over a million beneficiaries, we are in partnership with them; they would support us so that we can scale up the programme and reach these targets.

"They are with us at the plank market to see our operations and have an interaction with some of our beneficiaries.

"The plank sellers association is one of our beneficiaries, we have disbursed about 1000 loans to them and we still have about 3000 queued up on our system," Adeniji said.

Chief Operating Officer, Government Enterprises and Empowerment Program (GEEP), Uzoma Nwagba, said the programme was strengthening its collaboration with foreign and domestic partners to deepen financial inclusion initiatives in the country.

Nwagba said that GEEP was a direct response of government to the challenge of access to funds, financial inclusion and demonstration of its resolve to fast track growth and development of microenterprises.

Program Officer, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Dr Abi Jagun, said that the foundation was interested in supporting the government in its agenda on financial inclusion.

"We are interested in ensuring that poor people, people on low income have affordable, convenient and secured access to financial services.

"We have heard about GEEP and what the Bank of Industry is doing. We came today to learn about what they are doing and part of the learning is to go to the market and speak to people who are receiving it.

"The visit helped us not to just hear from Bank of Industry, the aggregators but also people who are receiving the loan.

"It is a learning opportunity for us to understand what the government is trying to do because we would like to support the government or any government that is trying to improve the lives of the poor and low income earners," she said.

President, Lagos State Plank and Building Materials Market Association, Rafiu Babajide, commended BoI for assisting the association with loans, adding that it's 50,000 membership cuts across 120 markets in the state.

He urged the bank to fast track loan processing and disbursement toward boosting business growth.


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