Minna - The Niger Government said it promoted the establishment of 19 micro-finance banks as part of efforts to provide credit facilities to the low income groups and persons in the state.
The Commissioner for Investment, Commerce and Cooperative, Hassan Abdullahi, made this known when he received the African Regional Director of International Cooperative Alliance, in Minna on Sunday.
Abdullahi said six other micro-finance banks would be established in 2013, to bring the number of such banks to 25 in the state.
He said the banks were located in the headquarters of the 19 Local Governments in line with the decisions of the shareholders.
The commissioner said the stakeholders contributed money for the floating of such banks, while the state government offered assistance to actualise it.
He said the bank offer credit facilities to poor members of their communities to establish or improve on their small businesses, thereby offering the opportunities to improve on the socio-economic status to cushion the stress associated with commercial bank credit system.
The commissioner said the state government was partnering small business groups, including cooperative societies, on how they could benefit from the N600 million funds earmarked for the state at the Bank of Industry.
He also said that the ministry discovered that out of 17 000 cooperative societies in the state, only 5 000 were viable.
"We have started the process of re-certification of the cooperative societies to ensure that only viable ones are allowed to operate,’’ he said.
Chiyoge Sifa, the African Regional Director International Cooperative Alliance, said the alliance as an organ of African Union is determined to work toward strengthening the cooperative societies in the continent to provide their services to members.
Sifa said the alliance was seeking the establishment of African Cooperative Bank that would work closely with AU member states to revive cooperative banks in their countries.
According to her, only Kenyan Cooperative Bank has survived the closure of similar banks.
She, therefore, called for the revival of the Nigerian Cooperative Bank.
She said the revival would enable cooperative societies to benefit from the African Cooperative Bank in the areas of finances and staff capacity building.