Abuja – The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has set aside 220 billion Naira for lending to micro small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) and female entrepreneurs as part of initiatives to integrate women and informal firms into the formal economy.
Uzoma Onuoha, Deputy Director for Development Finance Department at the central bank, said the fund will be launched next month.
With 60 percent of the fund earmarked to empower women, CBN hopes to halve the size of the population presently excluded from the financial system from 46.3 percent in 2010 to 20 percent by 2020.
That figure stands at 39.7 percent at the end of last year.
Onuoha said the loans would also address poverty.
"Financial empowerment of the population is the prerequisite for financial inclusion. Once an individual is lifted out of poverty, they are empowered automatically. The fund is not a monetary but fiscal policy issue,” Onuoha said.
An estimated 77 percent of women in Nigeria lack access to financial services. There is a high proportion of women business owners in the micro and small enterprise categories as against a small proportion in the medium and large enterprises.
– CAJ News