Enhancing Financial Innovation and Access (EFInA), an organisation funded by the Uk Government’s Department for International Development (DFID) and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said it has invested $18 million in grants to help advance financial inclusion and promote financial literacy in Nigeria.
This was disclosed by Mr Segun Akerele, EFInA’S board chairman, at the maiden edition of a capacity building programme for journalists that was organised by EFInA in Lagos.
Akerele said “about 41 million Nigerians are financially excluded with the bulk of it coming from the north-west, north-east and north-central, one of our focus areas in the north. So, we are going to target quite a lot of effort to the north, there will also be a focus on women as there is a huge gender gap when it comes to financial inclusion”.
He added that “we are aware that financial inclusion is very important in Nigeria today. We have 41 million people that are excluded and we have a target of 12 percent exclusion by 2020, but it is important that we get all the stakeholders involved in driving this message”.
According to Akerele, some of the obstacles that encourage financial exclusion include lack of education and infrastructure. He noted that “most of the products we are creating now are for urban areas. So the first thing is to identify what they need in the rural areas and how to move infrastructure there”.
EFInA’s Grant Manager, Suzanne Adeoye, who also spoke at the programme, pointed out that irregular income, lack of employment and long distance to financial access points are also barriers to ensuring financial inclusion. She noted that it is only products and services targeted at low income earners that will boost financial inclusion.
Adeoye stressed that no organisation can drive financial inclusion alone. She revealed EFInA would be working with the media to increase financial services awareness and literacy.