The Rural Finance Institution Building Programme (RUFIN) has said financial contributions from microfinance institutions (MFIs) to active borrowers in rural communities in the 12 participating states of the programme had reached N30 billion.
National Programme Coordinator, , Olumuyiwa Azeez, stated this during a two-day National Consultative Workshop for Rural Finance Outreach Coordinating Committee (ROCC), in Uyo, Akwa-Ibom state.
The event was organized by the Central Bank of Nigeria in collaboration with the International Funds for Agriculture (IFAD) – RUFIN.
Mr. Azeez, who was represented by the Deputy National Programme Coordinator for RUFIN, Mrs. Uneku Ufaruna, stated that the N30b was the amount of loan extended to target groups over the past six years adding that the RUFIN project had brought many rural women and youth out of poverty.
He said: “As of October this year the MFIs have extended over N30 billion credits to the rural poor and have recovered them. Recovery is 95 per cent to 100 per cent. The programme inculcated a savings culture to rural households and most of them can boost of savings in cash, investment in both on farm and off farm activities.
“There is no programme that will remain memorable in Nigeria without an exit strategy so that is how the conception of ROCC came into being. Now whether RUFIN is around or not, ROCC is meant to coordinate the rural finance delivery in the states because they are the eyes of all the stakeholders involved in the delivery.
“They are to push the microfinance institutions to go into rural areas to enhance rural penetration and to enhance access to financial services by the financially excluded communities in their various states.
“We expect that when RUFIN closes at the state level, ROCC should be able to continue implementation. The CBN is anchoring ROCC and with the money they released from their budget the RUFIN initiatives will continue after the programme closure in 2017.
“We hope the states are ready to contribute in running ROCC activities and enhance financial inclusion in their states.”
In her remarks, Country Programme Manager for IFAD, Atsuko Toda, noted that RUFIN had in six years contributed to rural financing by creating access to finance for people in rural areas through MFIs.
She said: “In terms of rural financial services, access to rural finance, over the last six years RUFIN has contributed a lot in the microfinance sub sector by building capacity of microfinance institutions and for the new phase of the programme we are collaborating with the CBN to see how they will sustain RUFIN activities.
“We have through RUFIN exceeded our target. RUFIN has been able to mobilize over 18, 000 Village Savings and Credit Groups including women and youth, build capacity of some of the microfinance banks.
“We feel that the microfinance subsector is much more stable than where it was when we started about six years ago. We hope to see these institutions; MFIs and CBN will continue the RUFIN initiatives especially improving rural financial inclusion.
“For IFAD we will continue to mainstream microfinance as a component in our programmes.”
Also, the CBN stated that it had concluded plans to replace RUFIN with ROCC to enhance financial inclusion in rural areas.
Director, Development Finance at the CBN, Dr. Mudashir Olaitan, stated this during an interview with journalists.
Mr. Olaitan, who was represented by Head Microfinance Management Office CBN, Edwin Nzelu, said the ROCC would take over from RUFIN to create financial inclusion for rural people.
“The workshop is to sensitize and create awareness and to emphasize the existence of ROCC which is structured as an exit strategy for RUFIN because what the RUFIN project has achieved needs to be sustained.
In this regard, ROCC will continue to midwife the laudable initiative and run with it when RUFIN exits in 2017. ROCC as conceived is already running with structures in place. And ROCC is there to finish up what RUFIN has started,” he said.
RUFIN is a seven-year development initiative that is funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the Federal Government of Nigeria. RUFIN is working in partnership with the Central Bank of Nigeria, Bank of Agriculture, Federal Department of Cooperatives, beneficiary State governments and other stakeholders to create an enabling environment for financial inclusion and rural poverty reduction.