By Gabriel Ewepu
ABUJA-AS rural women continue to lack access to finance and linger in poverty, a microfinance bank, Standard Life Organisation, SLO, has empowered more than 100, 000 rural women through Rural Business Plan, RBP, in eight states.
This was disclosed by the Chief Executive Office, SLO, Oyegue Osazee, at the one-day National Award Ceremony organised by the Central Bank of Nigeria in collaboration with IFAD-RUFIN for the ‘Best MFIs in Rural Business Plans.’
Osazee’s MFI was one of the 60 Microfinance Institutions, MFIs that received the awards. He said the organisation basically focuses on rural women that never had access to finance.
He said: “Actually, there is joy when you see a woman walk up to you and say I was poor but today I am now rich, I can now send my child to school, feed my family and do other positive things I could not do before. It is a joy for every head of organisation to hear that testimony.
“This is the reason we are out there to empower women. The impact is huge and many of the rural women are now financially included.
“We have reached many villages where they don’t have any form of financial activities like banking but today they are now fully involved and are financially included, and we are still doing more.
“We have empowered over 100, 000 rural women who were financially excluded in eight states, which include Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Ebonyi, Ondo, Edo, Abia, Delta, and Imo States.
“We have disbursed over N1.1 billion to these 100, 000 women from January to December of 2016. In these states we go to the communities to meet with these women and train them on how to start up their business and manage it.
“We are planning seriously to reach out to the whole country, and that is to the rural women in the core villages, where they are financially excluded.”
He also said the bank has trained many rural women free of charge on capacity building programmes organised to boost their skills in doing business, investment and management of profit.
“The women benefit freely from our capacity building, and they testify that the capacity building programme have made them to know how to manage their business. Many are out of poverty and their standard of life greatly improved”, he added.