Paul Arkwright

British High Commissioner, Paul Arkwright

•UN, firms train 250 Kaduna women on fiscal literacy

Enhancing Financial Innovation & Access (EFInA) has introduced a new challenge focusing on financial technology (fintech) companies to enhance financial services for Nigeria’s low-income population.

At a business forum organised by the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright, EFInA’s board chair, Segun Akerele, introduced the company as a financial sector development organisation that promotes financial inclusion.

The firm’s mission, Akerele explained, is to make the financial sector work better for the poor. The Department for International Development (DFID) and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation fund its activities.

According to Mrs. Bunmi Lawson, a board member of EFInA, with the launch of a new $2 million fund for start-up and growth stage, the poor will have more access to financial products and services.

“Following our recent request for information at our Fintech Outreach Forum, it gives me great pleasure to announce the launch of a new $2 million fund for start-up and growth stage fintech firms looking to increase access to financial products and services for the poor as well as reduce the rate of financial exclusion in the country.

“The aim of the fund is to stimulate and catalyse the financial technology delivery channels provided by the fintechs. The fund, to be known as ‘The Fintech Challenge Fund’, will be used to pilot and support the development of innovative financial products and services using digital technology. In addition, the new fund will support projects that help strengthen financial resilience in Nigeria by aligning innovation and modern technology with the needs of the target audience,” she said.

According to Lawson, the grants will cover $50,000 to $200,000 for ‘Fintech Challenge 1’ and $200,000 to $500,000 for Fintech Challenge 2. Meanwhile, the United Nations Women Nigeria has partnered with Procter and Gamble (P&G) and Afrigrants to empower 250 women in Kaduna State.

The beneficiaries were trained on financial literacy and ways to improve their relevance in the labour force. UN Women Nigeria has been at the forefront of ongoing efforts to enhance women’s economic empowerment in the country.

The UN Women country representative, Mr. Lansana Wonneh, said partnership with the two organisations to train the women on business management strategies would reinforce women-owned businesses in the state.

“Women and girls make up almost half of Nigeria’s population, but their contribution to measured economic activity, growth and well-being is far below the potential, resulting in significant socio-economic consequences.

“Sixty-five per cent of women are living below the poverty line in Nigeria. With respect to employment, the demographic and health survey showed that the female labour force participation rate was 59.1 per cent compared to 81.1 per cent for males. This has reduced women’s ability to climb out of poverty, leading to the exclusion of women at the secondary and tertiary levels.”

Director, Africa Global Government Relations and Public Policy, P&G, Temitope Iluyemi, said: “The programme is aimed at empowering women to maximise their capabilities and increase their participation in the labour force.

“At the end of the programme, we aim to absorb some of the women into our growing distribution network, so that they can honestly hone the business management skills they acquired, while giving them opportunity to integrate into regional value chains like ours.”

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