Uche Usim, Abuja
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has reiterated its plans to ensure that 80 per cent of Nigerians are captured in the financial equation of Nigeria by 2020.
The apex bank also approved N5 billion as an initial capital base for the newly established microfinance bank owned by the Nigerian Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL MFB), that will be spread in all 774 local government areas of the country.
The CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele stated these on Wednesday in Gwagwalada, Abuja while inspecting NIRSAL MFB.
According to him, only 45 per cent of Nigerians have been captured in the financial system, describing the number as low.
Emefiele hailed NIRSAL and Nigeria Postal Services (NIPOST) for their robust collaboration that led to the establishment of the microfinance bank.
He stressed that the feat was consistent with CBN’s plans to improve financial literacy and deepen economic development.
He was upbeat that the NIRSAL MFB will address the perennial nightmare of poor access to credit suffered by small businesses, especially those in the hinterland.
He said: “This is a collaboration between NIRSAL, bankers Committee, and NIPOST and I want to say that we really need to set up microfinance bank that will reach out to the unbanked.
“The biggest problems that small businesses have always had is poor access to credit and I am happy that with the establishment of this microfinance bank which would be in at least one local government and we are talking about the 774 locations in all the country, we would be able to have a financial institution that will help deepen financial inclusion to make it easy for people to access credit” he stated.
“We have already set a target for ourselves that by 2020, the rate of financial inclusion must increase to 80 per cent from about 48 per cent a year and a half ago. So, this is just part of our initiative to deepen financial inclusion in Nigeria”, he explained.
On collateral for loans and interest rate, the CBN governor said customers of microfinance banks are usually the financially-weak people in the society and such they would be able to access credit without providing collateral.
“The asset that we are financing for them will act as the collateral which will be registered in our national collateral registry as something that is eligible to serve as collateral for the loan.
“The loan is going to be disbursed from our AGMEIS scheme which is five per cent of profit after tax that is being set aside by the banks to support the small and medium enterprises that will be in agriculture or those that are into different type of small businesses that really very badly need to raise finance to be able to set up an earn livelihood. The interest rate for this will be at five per cent and the loan will be for a tenure of seven years with two years moratorium,” he added.
On claims the national MFBs is to crowd out other MFBs, Emefiele said
the existing microfinance banks are doing their best, even as he said the NIRSAL microfinance bank was not set up to crowd existing ones out.
“Rather, this is to complement their services and see to it that whatever services are being provided by these microfinance banks should be seen to be fair to their customers.
“I also know about the rural communities where the microfinance banks charge very prohibitive interest rates but here, we are talking about making the fund available to these people. This will help to create some form of a competitive landscape so that those kinds of practices will no longer arise”.
Emefiele said he was inspecting the first seven branches of the NIRSAL MFB, noting that the number would be scaled up to the next 50 in the next phase.
“We believe that before the end of this year, we would have moved substantially in making sure that they are set up and be able to provide finance to small businesses,” he added.