By Gabriel Ewepu
BENUE- BENUE State women have hailed the International Fund for Agricultural Development, IFAD, and Rural Finance Institution Building Programme, RUFIN, over poverty alleviation and financial inclusion.
This was the success story of over five women cooperative groups in three local government areas of the State, which were Gwe West and Logo during field visit by Project Completion Report, PCR, team comprised of the management from both IFAD and RUFIN, which was led by David Young, while other members of the team include IFAD Country Management Team, Prof Lombi, Dr Negedu Samuel, and Dr Oyebanji Olusola, Deputy National Coordinator, RUFIN, Mrs Faruna Uneku, Zonal Coordinator, Usman Tukur, and Benue State Coordinator, RUFIN, Mrs Lucy Kase.
The women who were trained on various aspects of business establishment and sustainability through linkages to MicroFinance Institutions, MFIs, said their standard of life have experienced positive impact.
Leader of Akenawe Women Cooperative, in Logo Government Area, Mrs Nguavese Igbazeda, expressed gratitude to RUFIN intervention in their family and business life.
Igbazeda said: “Akenawe Women Cooperative society were in the dark about embarking on a business but with RUFIN coming to training us on how to start and sustain a particular business we the members of the group now understood how to start a business.
“The training has really impacted positively in our personal, family and business life because we are all financially independent and have the sense of financial inclusion.
“Most of us here have built houses, sponsor our children to university level without begging anybody for assistance, and also we have established our sons and daughters on their own businesses, we can comfortably feed our families without stress.
“Like me, I have built a clinic with the profit I make from my business, and my husband is managing it for the family.”
Another group called NKST Widows, established in 2006, were elated by the visit of IFAD/RUFIN team, and said they have never remained the same after they came in contact with RUFIN, which has added value to their life through the empowerment they received via training on financial discipline, investment, record keeping, and other methods to improve their businesses and general well being.
Leader of the group, Gloria Ngoto, said the group which was formed in 2006 after the mandate of the leadership of NKST, as a way to empower the widows and their families was trained by RUFIN in 2010 on various aspects of establishing and sustaining businesses.
According to Ngoto RUFIN also linked the group to MFIs, which they have accessed loans to the tune of N3.5 million within three circles from 201 to 2015, which 75 members of the group have benefited and are now financially inclusive with their standard of living raised up to an enviable level.
She said: “We used the money to buy dozens of chairs and tables, canopies for rental to generate revenue for the group, which has yield profit for us. The loan we accessed also was used for the expansion of our yam farm, and we have built shops for rent in the local market.
“We also shared the loan to our members, particularly the initial 25 members of the group based on the policy of RUFIN that 25 members are to be in each group, but notwithstanding we give internal loans to our members who also have used it to better their lives.”
According to her their profit was also used to empower youths who are their children to start their own businesses, and also sponsor other to university level.
In their testimony about conquering poverty, the Mbagbe Yam Producers Multipurpose group, said they have made significant progress in adding value to their lives after RUFIN trained them on basic business practices and linkage to relevant MFIs to access loans.
According to the leader of the cooperative, Mrs. Agera Hannah, they have accessed loan of N2.12 million from MFIs since 2013, which all its 25 members have benefited from it.
“The Mbagbe Yam Producers Multipurpose Cooperative Society was formed in 2010, and we are registered officially and certified. We were trained by RUFIN on how best we can establish businesses as a group and individuals, and the impact after that training has been tremendous.
“RUFIN also linked us with MFIs in order to access loans that will be ploughed into our businesses. In three circles of loans we have accessed is N2.12 million.
“We have used these monies to achieve many things we were unable to get on our own, and this include comfortable standard of living, we have been able to sponsor our children to higher institutions of learning, and expand our businesses, farms and also become financial lenders in our community. We also give internal loans to our members with low interest rate”, Hannah said.
According to all the women cooperative groups they have paid back their loans to the MFIs that gave them the money, and there was no default, which indicates women’s prudence and commitment to the IFAD/RUFIN programme.