The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said that 60 per cent of what has been disbursed from its N220 billion Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund (MSMEDF), was allocated to women-based enterprises .
The apex bank said the gesture was a deliberate decision taken to increase women’s access to credit.
Director, Development Finance Department, CBN, Dr Mudashiru Olaitan said this yesterday in Abuja at the CBN 2018 International Women’s Day workshop tagged, “Women Inspiring Change”.
He gave the bank’s commitment to improve women’s access to formal financial services especially credit through its various intervention programmes.
Olaitan was represented by Mrs Hadiza Maina, a senior Development Finance Officer at the CBN.
She said the CBN was well inclined to promoting women’s access to finance to enable them play their expected role in economic development.
He said that promoting gender equality in access to finance meant that 50 per cent of the population would be empowered to contribute effectively to economic development.
To this end, he said that the banking watchdog had allocated resources through different programmes dedicated to women alone.
“Access to finance is often cited as one of the major factors impeding the growth of women-owned businesses in developing countries,” he said.
“In view of the peculiar challenges faced by women in accessing financial services in Nigeria, the CBN has established the N220 MSMEDF, Agric credit guarantees scheme, Anchor Borrowers Programme and financial inclusion programmes.
“These 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.”
He reiterated the banking watchdog’s commitment in growing the real sector and diversifying the revenue base through these schemes, initiatives and programmes.
Meanwhile, the Special Adviser to the CBN Governor on Sustainable Banking, Dr Aisha Mahmood, said that women were key to the economic development of Nigeria.
“In recognition of the centrality of women’s empowerment and gender equality to the realization of sustainable development, the Nigerian Financial Sector included women empowerment, human rights and financial inclusion in the NSBP,” she said.
.”CBN has a holistic approach and long-term commitment to the economic empowerment of women – to acknowledge that achieving women’s empowerment, gender equality and women’s human rights are prerequisite for Sustainability Development” .
“No country will achieve its full growth potential when half of its growth reserve – the women -are under-utilized. It is as a result of this that CBN developed gender – responsive intervention programmes.”
The CBN, she said, “believe that investing in women’s economic empowerment is a direct path towards Gender Equality, Poverty Eradication and Inclusive Economic Growth” .
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.
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