DIAMOND Bank Plc has announced the completion of its financial literacy training for artisans, which is aimed at boosting the growth of the micro small and medium scale enterprises in the country. The scheme is a corporate sustainability responsibility initiative by the bank, and organised in collaboration with the Lagos State government.
The bank said the training provided artisans and small business owners with basic information on how to start, nurture and grow their businesses. It said beneficiaries were enlightened on how to translate their skills into profitable businesses, register their businesses, raise capital, access loans from financial institutions and reach target markets.
The training sessions were facilitated by personnel of the bank as part of its Employee Volunteer Scheme. Uzoma Dozie, executive director of the bank, described the scheme as the bank’s way of giving back to the society in a more impactful way. “Our area of concentration in banking is the MSME and this initiative is a way of further projecting that cause. We feel a commitment to create more entrepreneurs and new businesses that will eventually partner with us in the nearest future to create a better economy for our country,” he said.
Ayona Trimnell, head, corporate communications of the bank, said that the scheme was a continuation of the bank’s bid to support and grow MSMEs in Nigeria. “This initiative is part of our CSR thrust and a continuation of our bid to increase financial and non-financial offerings in support of MSMEs in Nigeria. We recognise the fact that the jobs are no longer out there and that the answer to this situation is entrepreneurship, which is what we are here to encourage through this scheme,” she said.
Trimnell, who noted that many of the participants were university and polytechnic graduates, pointed out that the scheme was not a one-off project, but one that would be taken to other locations in the nearest future.
CBN Biometric Next Phase
THE Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, is to officially launch the 2nd phase of biometric details of all bank customers in the country on February 14, 2014. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, CBN, governor, said at the CBN and World Economic Forum meeting in Abuja, that the second phase would ensure full capture of biometric details of all banks’ customers nationwide in less than a year. “We will officially launch the 2nd phase of the biometric data base on February 14, 2014 with all head offices of banks and a branch of the banks,” he said.
The project, according to him, is expected to provide a centralised platform through which banks might enrol and uniquely verify the identity of each customer through ‘know your customer,’ KYC, purposes, perform credit checks, verify customer’s integrity and authenticate customers from a point of transaction device.
Sanusi said the project represented a major landmark in the Bankers’ Committee’s efforts at promoting financial inclusion drive, expanding banking services, access to credit and more importantly, dealing with money laundering and other financial industry problems.
He explained that the CBN and the banks decided to embark on the project as a proactive strategy to enhance the integrity of banking services delivery by building a reliable customer identification system which would help in complementing the other projects being embarked upon by various government agencies.
Also at the forum Sanusi said the apex was favourably disposed to empowering women in the country. Accordingly, he said N132 billion of the Small and Medium Enterprises Fund had been allocated to women entrepreneurs.
Mandate of Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company
THE Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company, NMRC, is set to reduce the interest rate on mortgage loans by commercial banks from between 18 and 22 percent to about 13 percent. According to the Mortgage Banking Association of Nigeria, MBAN, Mortgage lending in the country had been out of the reach of the middle and low income earners due to the high interest rates that had made housing finance expensive. Currently, mortgage lending other than from the National Housing Fund is between 18 and 20 percent, a development that has led to the widening of the housing deficit put at 17 million units as well as the growing slums in the urban centres.
When the initiative takes off, it will ensure that home owners refinance their mortgage expenses through the opportunity provided by the drop in interest rates. The federal government had announced the decision to establish the mortgage refinancing company earlier in the year to address the housing challenges in the country with a soft loan of $300m from the World Bank’s International Development Association concessionary lending window.
According to Femi Johnson, president, MBAN, there is an urgent need to increase the level of housing finance in the country to at least 10 percent of the Gross Domestic Product as against the current 0.5 percent. The NMRC was inaugurated by President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday, December 12, as a federal government Public-Private-Partnership initiative aimed at reducing the cost of mortgage lending by providing liquidity to fund housing development.
Compiled by Anayo Ezugwu
— Jan. 6, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT