Why cooperatives, financial NGOs should be under one roof – Giwa
Afolabi Hamid Giwa is the National President of the Association of Non-Bank Microfinance Institutions in Nigeria (ANMFIN), which recently trained its members in corporate governance in Abuja. In this interview he explains why they want to bring financial NGOs, cooperatives, women groups and others under one roof. donors that MFIs but gives an oversight can assist your function. But for the fact operations that they are the regulator the moment on financial programmes you have a of the country every other good package. organisation or institution Once you that falls within the financial package your line becomes an interactive programme body to the CBN. very well they We link up with CBN are ready to because of the Micro Finance assist you. policy. When we are setting This is part of up this organisation, it was what we have the CBN, having known been doing to what is operational in the make sure that MFIs across the world, that our members did the advocacy for all the get financial assistance.
What is ANMFIN all about?
ANMFIN is amalgamated and a player of the MFI, thrift societies, NGOs that are into microfinance operations. We regulate the activities of players of MFIs in the country. At times you hear of money bags and cooperative societies that dupe people of their money and run away, this is part of what we deal with.
Our association is serving as information exchange centre on development of micro finance activities in the country and the linkage on trying to make sure that people are getting what they want, especially those that have been patronising the MFBs making and sure they are able to access normal fund they are supposed to get and not some people gathering their money and dissolving into thin air.
Despite the existence of many micro finance institutions, why is access to finance still difficult?
On the issue of loan assessment, it is due to the bottlenecks that they use to put on the portfolio of these funds we are talking about. Take for example, there was a time the CBN rolled out billion naira for agricultural programme to which they said all the small scale farmers and MFI players should access. We believe that 20 percent of our members were unable to access the fund due to some bottlenecks. The bottlenecks is that, the moment the government rolls out a programme, the statement was that anyone that wants to participate in it should register either as a cooperative society or as a body so as to access that fund which is wrong. What they should have done is to tell us to go and join an existing organisation, the existing MFI players, farmers groups that have been playing and cannot default and not the people that are connected to the presidency and at the end of the day the people that it is meant for do not have it. This is what led to the collapse of the programme.
We have been trying to eradicate such cases through our interactive discussions with all the organs that are responsible for them.
What impact will the board training bring to your members?
We need to give this training to ensure that members fulfill the ethics of the association and adapt to financial reporting that we have set up and most importantly to set up global standard because ANMFIN is of global level; in Gambia, Ghana, USA, Britain. We have set a standard to make sure that our members, especially board members, who happen to be at the apex disseminate the information to their various institutions.
Before now, we have been doing national sensitisation for our members. We started since last year at different geopolitical regions. We sensitise our members towards the standard we set up but we still believe that we must organise seminars for them to practicalise what they should be doing in their zones.
How far have you gone in building your members finances a in relationship to your objectives?
There are financial linkages that we are involved in. We are partners with various organisations but that is not enough. We have discussion with the Bank of Agriculture and we told them the template. We built our template and let them know that this is where we believe they can assist us, especially our members that are into agricultural finance.
Just recently, we joined the African Rural Agricultural Credit Association, it is a continental organisation for Africa and its function is to link you to international
What are some of the sanctions meted out to defaulters by you as a regulator?
We do not have power of prosecution but we have our security officers across the country that help check excesses. Violators are traced and reported to the security agencies because they have power to prosecute. It has happened in some places, like Kano and Kwara states and some of those defaulters are still in police net. Some of them are those that gather people’s money all in the name of operating MFBs and they will run away. We always have a way of getting information about them and reporting the issue to the security agents who pick them up including their staff.
We told our members to be vigilant because we do not want anybody that will dent our image. There are some players of MFIs that used to collect forms from international donors and at the end of the day they will die fat but we do not want such to happen again.
How are you able to deal with credibility between members of the public and MFB institutions?
That is the advocacy we are now embarking on. We want to go into full publicity that ANMFIN is operating on very good ethics that regulates the activities of MFIs in the country. We are here to regulate the activities of the players in the institutions and want the public to deal with MFIs that are ANMFIN certified.
What is your relationship with the CBN?
CBN does not
register MFIs players. It is a bottom up arrangement.
Our linkage with CBN is simply because they are the regulator of financial issues across the country but we are registered by the CAC and operating under that act. But it is the CBN that helps us in time of recognition.
What are you doing in the area of SMEs accessing loans from MFBs?
ANMFIN is a member of Microfinance Advisory Body (MAP) and we normally meet. Some of the MFBs are not operating as they should because the interest on their loan is too high and we told the CBN to regulate them. Again, the bottleneck of the conventional banking they adopted is wrong but we are doing something on that.
We were told by the CBN, though that there are various portfolios of loans in various banks, like agricultural loan in First Bank, Bank of Agricultural and Union Bank. Since there are portfolios there, we tailor our members to get loans from such banks.