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CBN earmarks 60% of N220bn MSMES fund for women-based programmes

…Says 217 years needed to close workplace gender gap

Uche Usim, Abuja

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), on Wednesday, said it allocated 60 per cent of its N220 billion Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund (MSMEF) to women-based programmes, in its quest to get more of them into the formal financial sector, especially with regards to access to credit and other intervention schemes.
This was as it lamented that it would take 217 years to close the workplace gender gap, judging by the figures from the World Economic Forum (WEF).
The Director, Development Finance Department, CBN, Dr. Mudashiru Olaitan, said this yesterday in Abuja at the CBN 2018 International Women’s Day workshop tagged, “Women Inspiring Change”.
Olaitan, who was represented by Mrs. Hadiza Maina, a senior Development Finance Officer at CBN, said women’s involvement in the financial sector needs to be deepened, assuring that the apex bank was determined to change the narrative for better, considering their pivotal role in national development.
Describing women as vital partners in the urgent task in revamping the economy, Olaitan 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.
“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 billion MSMEDF, Agricultural 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 in the country,” he said.
He reiterated the apex bank’s commitment in growing the real sector and diversifying the revenue base through these initiatives and programmes.

In his remarks at the event, the Special Adviser to the CBN Governor on Sustainable Banking, Dr. Aisha Mahmood, said that women were key to the economic development of Nigeria.

“It has been proven that women have immense potential as engines of growth and economic development. Consequently, empowering them becomes beneficial to the society at large.
“Women are key contributors to economies as producers of food, managers of natural resources, entrepreneurs and employees in businesses. Despite these contributions, women still do not have equal access to financial services and credits. There is progress but its very slow. So slow that WEF reports that it will take 217 years to close the gender gap in the workplace.
“Sustainability development has three interrelated pillars: economic development, social development and environmental protection; hence, sustainable development can only be achieved when these three dimensions are satisfied cumulatively.
“Hence, economic development, as component of sustainable development, is not achievable without the involvement of women. You are also aware that women’s equality and empowerment is one of the 17 SDGs – Goal 5.
“According to UN, women gender equality is integral to all dimensions of inclusive and sustainable development, which means all the SDGs depend on the achievement of Goal 5.
In recognition of the centrality of women’s empowerment and gender equality to the realisation of sustainable development, the Nigerian financial sector included women empowerment, human rights and financial inclusion in the NSBP.
CBN has a holistic approach and long-term commitment to the economic empowerment of women – to acknowledge that achieving women’s empowerment, gender equality and women’s human rights are prerequisite for sustainability development,” she said.
Recall that a 2016 report by Elfina, a United Kingdom government project on access to financial services in Nigeria, showed that 21.4 million females, that is 42.7 per cent of the total female population in Nigeria, were financially excluded.
The report showed that financial access was skewed towards the male population, which had only 35.8 per cent of its population financially excluded.

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