- BMGF, CBN, Others Target 40 Million Financially-excluded Nigerians
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Central Bank of Nigeria, Nigerian Communications Commission and other stakeholders in the country are collaborating to bring on board 40 million Nigerians currently excluded from financial services.
The Deputy Director, Financial Services for the Poor, BMGF, Kosta Peric, announced the collaboration in Lagos during the BusinessDay Financial Inclusion Summit.
He said the move was critical considering that financially excluded Nigerians would have difficulties in planning and getting out of poverty.
According to him, it is important that such persons are equipped with the capacity to transact financial services, which will further expose them to broader financial deals like micro credits, loans and capital market participation, among others.
Peric said, “The BMGF is working with a number of partners in Nigeria to achieve the goal of dropping to 20 per cent financial exclusion by 2020. The partners include regulators, financial services providers and operators within the space.
“The Foundation, while philanthropic, does not seek to focus on their monetary contributions, but are rather driven by impact.”
Every year, according to the Foundation, millions of people around the world transition out of poverty in many number of ways by adopting new farming technologies, investing in new business opportunities, or finding new jobs, among others.
At the same time, it noted that large numbers of people were falling back into poverty due to health problems, financial setbacks and other shocks. Compounding this situation, it added, was the fact that majority of those living in or near poverty lacked even the most basic banking services.
“Effective tools for saving, sending and borrowing money, and mitigating financial risks can help people weather setbacks and achieve greater financial stability over the long term,” it stressed.
Worldwide, more than 2.5 billion adults do not have accounts at financial institutions, according to the World Bank’s Global Financial Inclusion Database. Only 41 per cent of adults in developing economies have an account, and that number drops to just over 20 per cent among adults living in extreme poverty.
Women, in particular, are largely excluded from the formal financial system. In developing countries, only 37 per cent of women have accounts, compared to 46 per cent of men, according to the World Bank.
Peric said most poor households were operating almost entirely in the cash economy, particularly in the developing world; of which they use cash, physical assets (such as jewellery and livestock), or informal providers (such as money lenders and payment couriers) to meet their financial needs, from receiving wages to saving money.
However, these informal mechanisms can be insecure, expensive and complicated to use, he said, adding that they offered limited recourse when a major problem arises, such as a serious illness in the family or a poor harvest.