Spurred by the success of its Village Savings and Loans Associations (VS&LAs) for farmers in Benue, Nasarawa, and Plateau states, Oxfam GB is partnering the Bank of Industry (BoI), to disburse a N200million facility to boost farmers’ activities in the affected states.
The partnership is borne from the need to target the most marginalised and hard to reach in the rural communities in line with the objectives of the Federal Government Social Intervention policy.The funds, tagged, “GEEP MarketMoni” is the first batch of the loans meant to expand the activities of about 500 farmer groups in some communities in the three states. BoI is executing the Federal Government of Nigeria’s microcredit initiative, the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP).OXFAM Implementing Partners, Young Men Christian Association (YMCA); Nigerian Association of Women in Agriculture (NAWIA); and Cocin Community Development Program (CCDP), will be responsible for monitoring and supporting the beneficiaries to effectively utilise the funds in Nassarawa, Benue, and Plateau respectively.
Oxfam’s VS&LAs are self-managed community-based groups that provide members access to basic financial services. It’s self-selected 15 to 25 individuals meet regularly (usually weekly or fortnightly) to save, and if desired, borrow for short periods, paying monthly interest at a rate set by the group.Apart from the primary goal of increasing access to credit to the ’unbanked’ at the bottom of the pyramid, the scheme has significantly improved community cohesion and active citizenship in communities where the project is being implemented, while building the resilience of rural farmers towards saving for unforeseen circumstances.Furthermore, women who hitherto do not have a voice or engage in community governance issues have become very vocal and confident as a result of their participation in the scheme hence greatly improving their leadership skills.
According to the Executive Director, Microenterprise Directorate, BoI, Mrs. Toyin Adeniji, “this is part of the FGN’s mandate to BoI to achieve, amongst others, financial inclusion, and access to credit for 1.6 million beneficiaries across target segments. These are market women and traders, artisans, enterprising youths, agricultural workers, agro-allied processors and other MSME categories in furtherance of the attainment of poverty eradication, employment generation, growth and development of Micro Enterprises throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”The Deputy Country Director, Oxfam Nigeria, Constant Tchona, said: “the disbursement of the funds is a good development for us as Oxfam. It demonstrates the fact that the government is responding to the needs of the rural farmers who produce what we eat but have been lacking financial support for improvement.“The coming on board of BoI will boost the scheme thereby the rural farmers will be able to improve their productivities and increase their earnings.