Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has pledged to improve access to formal financial services for women, especially credit through its various intervention programmes.
The Director, Development Finance Department, CBN, Dr Mudashiru Olaitan, made the pledge on Wednesday in Abuja at the CBN 2018 International Women’s Day workshop tagged “Women Inspiring Change.”
Olaitan, who was represented by Mrs Hadiza Maina, Senior Development Finance Officer at the CBN, said the bank was inclined to promoting access to finance for women to enable them to play their expected role in economic development.
He said promoting gender equality in access to finance meant that 50 per cent of the population would be empowered to contribute effectively to economic development.
He added that CBN had, therefore, allocated resources through different programmes dedicated to women alone.
He explained that under the N220 billion Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund (MSMEDF), 60 per cent of the fund was allocated to women-based enterprises.
He noted that “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, 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 potential for job creation and inclusive growth on our country,” he said.
He reiterated the apex bank’s commitment to growing the real sector and diversifying the revenue base through these schemes, initiatives and programmes.
The Special Advicer to the CBN Governor on Sustainable Banking, Dr Aisha Mahmood, said women were key to the economic development of Nigeria.
She added that “it has been proven that women have immense potential as engine of growth and economic development.
“Empowering women becomes beneficial to the society as large.”
A 2016 report by Elfina, a U.K. Government project on Access to Financial Services in Nigeria, showed that 21.4 million females, representing 42.7 per cent of the total female population in Nigeria, were financially excluded.
The report showed that financial access was skewed toward male population, which had only 35.8 per cent of its population financially excluded.