A leading global humanitarian and development organization, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with LAPO Microfinance Bank Limited to provide finance access to farmers and micro- enterprises in the North Eastern.
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The scheme is designed to make credit facilities accessible to 90,000 low-income households, comprising smallholder farmers and microenterprises, in the Northeast states of Borno, Adamawa, Yobe and Gombe.
The partnership, she said is Mercy Corp’s strategic way of responding to the well-documented challenges of poor farmers and producer households in accessing finance in Northeast Nigeria, where ongoing conflict and insecurity have worsened the already weak financial inclusion of poor farmers and vulnerable people, particularly women, young people, internally displaced persons, and people living with disabilities.
LAPO Microfinance Bank is a pro-poor financial institution committed to the social and economic empowerment of low-income households through the provision of access to responsive financial services on a sustainable basis. Mercy Corps is implementing the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded Feed the Future Nigeria Rural Resilience Activity.
The scheme seeks to facilitate economic recovery and growth in vulnerable, conflict affected areas by promoting systemic change in market systems.
The N200 million worth scheme, will be implemented primarily in the Northeast states of Adamawa, Borno, Gombe, and Yobe.
In her remarks, Managing Director, LAPO Microfinance Bank Limited, Margarita Cynthia said the partnership is working to empower about 540,000 vulnerable individuals in the communities of affected states in N/E, and strengthen market systems to cope with shocks and stresses, and to be prepared to withstand future ones.
“The partnership, she said was designed to leverage areas of shared strengths, experiences, technologies, methodologies, and resources to facilitate sustainable change in the Northeast market systems, through the implementation of the USAID funded Activity.
“Our partnership with Mercy Corps will further deepen the reach of our 30 years mandate of effectively bridging the social and economic gaps in Nigeria, especially for members of low-income households who are often most vulnerable and impacted during crisis situations.”
“Mercy Corps’ partnership with LAPO MfB demonstrates a shared vision and commitment to revitalization of over 90,000 impacted families,”
According to the Country Director of Mercy Corps Nigeria, Mr Ndubisi Anyanwu, this partnership with LAPO contributes to strategic objectives of improving market systems development through community facilitation and private sector partnerships.
He also informed that the partnership will avail essential financial services and products to over 500,000 farmers in Adamawa, Borno, Gombe and Yobe states. This is part of our financial inclusion strategies to reduce the population of adults who are excluded from formal financial services, and continue to build resilience in fragile communities within the country.
Speaking about the potential impact of the partnership, the Chief of Party of the Feed the Future Nigeria Rural Resilience Activity, Margarita Aswani said, “when like-minded partners come together, the real winners are the communities that we serve. We hope to learn from LAPO’s extensive experience in microcredit for vulnerable households and support our communities in North East Nigeria to grow their savings and their businesses, making them resilient against future shocks.”
The LAPO-Mercy Corps partnership will focus on interventions in the financial services sector that will create and institutionalize a market-based relationship between financial service providers, technical extension and business advisory service providers, smallholder farmers, microenterprises and small- to medium-enterprises, as well as agricultural inputs and output lead firms and key agribusiness stakeholders.
“These interventions will be designed to increase access to and use of appropriate financial services, particularly credit, savings, insurance, financial education, and payment platforms for increasing enterprise productivity and household income for microenterprises and smallholder farmers in maize, rice, cowpea, groundnuts, and small ruminant value-chains, within the implementation states of the Rural Resilience Activity,” said Aswani.