After a seemingly failed attempt at extending banking services to the poor in the rural areas, concerned parties such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) have resolved to take both managers of microfinance banks and other stakeholders for a re-training in a bid to reduce the un-banked population.
It has been discovered that majority of the poor, but economically active, meant to be served by microfinance banks do not know about the operations of the industry. Some of them, according to BusinessDay investigations, shy away when they hear about saving or borrowing from microfinance banks.
Observers say this is a major challenge which the operators need to tackle in order to achieve the objective of the institution. Evelyn Nwaka, soup condiment seller, does not know about the operations of microfinance banks, but expressed willingness to open an account with one. Also, Yemi Jamiu, a groundnut seller, needs money to grow her business but said she was afraid of borrowing from a microfinance bank.
In a move to assist such a population, the UNDP, in conjunction with CBN has begun a two-week training programme for managers and stakeholders in the micro-finance industry. The training progamme is scheduled to hold in two batches, commencing from August 2, to 13, and 16 to 27 for the first and second batches, respectively.
In a telephone interview, Uche Ubani, managing director, Peniel Microfinance Bank Limited, Lagos, said the essence of the training was to make sure that the stakeholders saw the need of taking to their responsibilities. Kabiru Nasidi, UNDP representative, urged participants at a formal opening of the programme in Abuja to make use of the opportunity presented by the programme to upgrade their knowledge on how to provide small loans to the poor to enable them grow their businesses.
Olubunmi Adetunbi, development associate of the programme, said the training would broaden participants' understanding on how to deliver inclusive operations and provide them with tools to improve performance. Nasidi further assured that the training would help the participants to develop practical skills to manage, improve and expand microfinance services to the poor.
Kingsley Moghalu, deputy governor, Financial System Stability, CBN, had stressed the need for regular training sessions for microfinance bank operators as against so much emphasis on capital by most people.
"People emphasise too much on capital in this country, they do not understand that you can have all the capital in this world, yet your bank can fail because you have poor corporate governance. There are other things you have to do; people who run microfinance banks need to be well-trained. They need to understand the concept of microfinance bank. It is not commercial banking. They have different models. It was for this reason we are undertaking the training programmes for operators in the sector. Henceforth, before you run a microfinance bank you have to pass an examination that the CBN will organise so that you are sure you know what you are doing," Moghalu said.