United Kingdom’s support agency, UKAID, is plowing 320 million Pounds into not less than 9 Financial Sector Deepening Programmes (FSDs) in select African countries, including Nigeria, to help nourish micro businesses, the youth and other enterprises. The announcement was made earlier today ahead of the UK-Africa Summit holding in London.
The commitment is targeted at strengthening the financial sector on the continent to provide support for households, small businesses, youth, and infrastructure development programmes. Recipients of the fund are agencies that carry out research, develop financial inclusion products and maintain relationship with policy makers to influence policies relating to enhancing the finance ecosystem.
Speaking about the importance of the commitment, Secretary for UK International Development, Alok Sharma, said, “Africa’s substantial investment potential is clear, with many African countries outstripping global economic growth in recent decades”.
“The UK is already the top financial exchange for Africa’s businesses and we want investors to seize the exciting opportunities that Africa offers. These new initiatives, announced ahead of the UK-Africa Investment Summit, will make it easier, greener and more secure to invest in Africa, mobilising billions of pounds of sustainable investment to help end poverty”, he added.
EFInA, Enhanced Financial Innovation & Access, has been developing financial inclusion programmes in Africa. It once worked with former Diamond Bank to develop the ‘Esusu’ saving schemes that helped incorporate several unbanked tradesmen and women in the informal sector. It continues to carryout research and organise programmes that are helping to improve financial inclusion in Nigeria especially.
The Chairman of EFInA’s board, Segun Akerele, cited the organisation’s achievements in Nigeria. He highlighted, “EFInA’s catalytic and strategic collaboration with financial service regulators, operators and providers has contributed to 28 million additional Nigerians accessing formal financial services since EFInA was established in late 2007 thereby reducing financial exclusion from 52.5% in 2008 to 36.8% as of 2018. Through research, advocacy, capacity building, and promoting innovation, EFInA has provided the critical support required to expand access to affordable, relevant financial services to all Nigerians, including under-served groups such as women and Northern Nigerians.”
While many Nigerians need financial education to tap into new initaitives, a good percentage of the population are craving for the opportunity to run successful venture. The dearth of adequate funding ranks most among the challenges confronting entrepreneurs in the country. Strengthening the financial sector through advocacy programmes and injection of funds such as the latest effort by UKAID will go a long way to lessen the pressure on entrepreneurs.