By Josephine Agbonkhese

The Bank of Agriculture, BOA, has various lending programmes, including lending at single digit to women farmers who operate corporatives of about 10 people. Under this single digit programme, the bank says, these women can access up to 1.5million. The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Anchor Borrowers Programme introduced in 2015, is another. This allows farmers to borrow up to N250,000 provided they have an assured market.

Also, at the Bank of Industry, BOI, lies the Government Enterprise Economic Empowerment Programme introduced in 2017, which allows access to trade money for marketing commodities. All of these loans and many more, abound, and are particularly collateral-free; only requiring that people are organized and able to manage their business effectively.

In the midst of these however, small-scale business owners, especially agribusiness owners, have largely decried, continuously, their inability to access credit facilities.

Perturbed by this phenomenon which it fears could pose serious challenge to the President Mohammadu Buhari-led government’s efforts and investment in the agricultural sector, as small-scale women farmers have been touted to be responsible for producing over 70% of the foods consumed in the country, the Kudirat Initiative for Democracy, KIND, recently held a capacity building workshop on record-keeping and business management for more than 80 women farmers in Lagos State.

According to Professor Aderibigbe Olomola, an agricultural consultant, who spoke to Woman’s Own at the event, training women farmers was essential for boosting their capacity in terms of funds and skills, to enable them run their businesses effectively.

“These women drive the Nigerian economy and definitely need external finance to upscale their enterprise. Through this training on record-keeping, sales promotion, marketing and management, we believe they will be able to access the available loans that are being announced from time to time by different bodies, and can utilize them profitably and above all, repay. Lenders will, in the long run, find them credit worthy because this training will reduce the risks of lenders losing their money either through diversion or bad management,” said Professor Olomola.

Speaking to Woman’s Own shortly after the training, one of the facilitators, Funto Babarinde, a Senior Enterprise Officer at the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency of Nigeria, SMEDAN, said: “From my experience with the participants in the last few hours, majority of them find it burdensome to keep records daily. However, I believe we have given them the information they need to run their business well. Basically, if you are running a business, you must keep records. You must know what the vision of your business is, how to market your business, what agricultural tools are needed for the business to grow, etc. You must keep records such as sales records, credit records, records of raw materials, and more.

“Hopefully, the target is to make sure that they do their business better and are therefore able to access funds. If your record is good, it is very easy to access funds from anywhere; whether government, private or micro-finance banks, if required. But if you do not keep records, it becomes difficult for you to be able to do so.”

One of the participants at the training, Oluwatosin Oyetunde, a fish farmer and agro-processor specialized in the production of animal feeds, told Woman’s Own that knowledge gained at the training will help her be more calculative, accurate in record-keeping, and better in managing her finances to be able to maximize profits.

“More importantly, I have been able to identify gaps in my record-keeping methods,” she added.

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