Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has promised to improve women’s access to formal financial services especially credit through its various intervention programmes.
This promise was made by the Director, Development Finance Department of the CBN, Mudashiru Olaitan Wednesday in Abuja at the CBN 2018 International Women’s Day workshop tagged “Women Inspiring Change”.
Represented by Mrs. Hadiza Maina, a senior Development Finance Officer at the CBN, Olaitan said the apex bank was favourably disposed to increasing women’s access to finance “to enable them play their expected role in economic development.”
By promoting gender equality in access to finance, 50 per cent of the population would be empowered to contribute effectively to economic development Olaitan noted.
To ensure greater access to finance by woman, the CBN he said has allocated resources through different programmes devoted to women alone.
For instance, he said that under the N220 billion Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund (MSMEDF), 60% of the Fund was allocated to women based enterprises.
According to him, “access to finance is often cited as one of the major factors impeding the growth of women-owned businesses in developing countries. In view of the peculiar challenges faced by women in accessing financial services in Nigeria, the CBN has established the N220 million MSMEDF, Agric credit guarantees scheme, Anchor Borrowers Programme and financial inclusion programmes.”
These financial interventions he explained “are innovative ways of improving women’s access to finance at mainly single digit interest rate, which will improve their potentials for job creation and inclusive growth on our country.”
Earlier, the Special Advicer to the CBN Governor on Sustainable Banking, Aisha Mahmood, said women were key to the economic development of Nigeria.
According to her, “it has been proven that women have immense potentials as engines of growth and economic development. Consequently, empowering them becomes beneficial to the society at large,” she said.
During the technical session, it was revealed that a 2016 report by Elfina, a U.K. Government project on Access to Financial Services in Nigeria, showed that 21.4 million females, that is 42.7 per cent of the total female population in Nigeria were financially excluded.
The report showed that financial access was skewed towards the male population, which had only 35.8 per cent of its population financially excluded.