CBN fetes 3 microfinance banks for helping Enugu rural farmer, traders
It was a day three microfinance institution in Enugu, Enugu State, OHHA Microfinance Bank, Umuchinemere Pro-credit Microfinance Bank and Ifeanyichukwu Microfinance Bank, had looked up to.
They had done well in rural banking by assisting more rural farmers and peasant traders than the other 20 microfinance institution in the state. Thus the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Enugu Branch, staged an award ceremony/sensitization programme to recognize their excellent performances in the last financial year. The CBN announced that OHHA Microfinance Bank emerged the best performing commercial bank in the state with Umuchinemere Pro-credit and Ifeanyichukwu Microfinance banks, trailing behind with second and third positions respectively.
CBN Controller for Enugu, Mr. Patrick Okonkwo, said the event was part of the measures aimed at encouraging microfinance banks to operate within stipulated best practices. He also said this year's ceremony was indeed a unique one as it come with a sensitization programme, which gives the banks the opportunity to interact face-to-face with the CBN management on issues bothering on their operations. He challenged the bank to reach out to the grassroots for the various CBN intervention schemes.
Head of Development Finance Office, CBN Enugu, Mr. Ibeawuchi Amagwu, revealed that the apex bank gave the awards based on the ability of the banks to achieve a wider outreach to the farmer and other low-income earners in the rural areas. While acknowledging the fact the Enugu State was one of the best performing states in the CBN intervention programmes, he pointed out that "right now, the state has benefitted by singing the MoU for their own portion of the microfinance development fund."
"Our main aim of organizing this programme is to encourage microfinance banks and grassroots financing particularly agriculture and the only way we can achieve that is to ensure that we make the microfinance bank effective in other to reach out to the rural dwellers. We want to achieve financial inclusion by the year 2020 and that is why we are urging them to be very effective,".
He, therefore, urged the banks tom play by the rules, adding, "those who play by the comers will eventually get trapped; as long as they are benefitting and playing by the rules, they will be reaching out to people very well." According to the Chairman of OHHA Microfinance Bank, Dr. Mike Okwudili, his bank, was able to emerge as the best performing microfinance bank due to what he described as "our devotedness in ensuring that the active rural woman and other poor farmer access loans with which to help themselves.
"This award is a testimony to our commitment to grassroots development through reaching out to the poor farmers in the rural areas and making sure they have access to loan. I can say that this is the area we seem to have excelled. Our efforts are geared towards the rural women whom I think are the engine room of this country". He noted that OHHA Microfinance Bank did not just stop at providing loans to the rural dwellers, "we don't wait for them to come for the loans, we visited the farmers, the market people, the petty traders and discuss with them; we see what they are doing and advise them accordingly. We make the needed funds accessible to them at very minor interest rate."
He urged other banks to key into the policy of inclusive banking system: "The more the number of people you reach out to with the loans the better for everyone." Managing Director, Umuchinemere Pro-credit Microfinance Bank, Mrs. Nnenna Ekete, whose bank emerged second said: "This shows that we are improving because it is a nice development from our third position last year. We try as much as we can to reach out to a lot of farmers in the rural areas. We mobilize as many farmers as possible in different communities and empower them with loans to use and help their business."
Managing Director of Ifeanyichukwu Microfinance Bank, Mr. Clement Oramulu, While thanking God for the enablement and His grace to come third among all the microfinance banks, he credited the feat to the united effort being made by the board and management of the bank: "We appreciate their encouragement the incentive and motivation they give to the staff without which this feat wouldn't have been achieved. God's willing, we shall always emerge successful in our operation."