Lack of skills sets, as well as lack of constant and specialised training, has been isolated as reasons why micro-finance institutions and agencies hardly realised their double bottom-line: financial sustainability and poverty alleviation.
This could be why the microfinance industry in Nigeria may have been plagued by lots of challenges ranging from poor policy frameworks to poor institutional capacity to effectively deliver on the double objectives.
The managing director of the Rivers State Micro Finance Agency (RIMA), Innocent Iyalla Harry, made this disclosure at a three-day training programme mounted in collaboration with the United Nations Development Agency (UNDP) through the International Donor Agency (IDA) platform.
Harry regretted that unlike in most other countries of the world, the microfinance industry in Nigeria is still at what he called infantile stage compared to the huge market available in the country.
He stated at the opening ceremony of the training programme that it is already accepted that microfinance in itself cannot solve the problems of poverty, but that an effective and efficient operation of the industry could however contribute in no small measure to alleviation of poverty particularly for the enterprising poor.
The RIMA boss said despite the influence of the national financial and microfinance environment, that agency was nevertheless interested only in the industry in Rivers State. “We should take advantage of this gathering to get acquainted with the critical success factors a successful entrepreneur should have: tool kit as well as cross fertilisation of ideas on how to effectively strengthen our capacities in the delivery of our double bottom-line to the benefit of creating employment and better standard of living”.
The chief executive expressed huge appreciation to the UNDP and the IDA as well as the special adviser to Governor Chibuike Amaechi on international donor agencies, Bestman Nnwoka, and all the consultants lined up to hone the skills of the personnel of the agency.
Experts were taking the agency’s staff members on Development of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Tool Kit for Entrepreneurs in Rivers State. The strategy is to prepare the RIMA personnel enough to groom micro, small and medium entrepreneurs in the state ready to handle businesses and investments as well as how to access micro loans (N2 billion in RIMA) and the SME Fund of N5 billion now in the state.
Such topics handled by the experts included online presence and use of social media, operations management, presentation skills, strategies for growth, tax and regulatory matters, action plans, next steps, etc. A summary report was expected.
The SA to the governor, Nnwoka, said in his opening remarks that the UNDP would continue to support RIMA to acquire necessary skills to meet the challenges of the microfinance industry. He said RIMA identifies its needs while the UNDP solves it through high resource persons.
In his comments, the managing partner of G-Consulting, Godfrey Ajayi Sunday, said RIMA was blazing the trail in the microfinance industry in Nigeria and appealed to the agency to consider more innovative programmes that can save the industry.
RIMA, with N2 billion to lend to the active poor, has created a novel method of accessing the real poor in the rural areas in a mode called the Rural Finance Institutions (RFIs) which operates both like a cooperative and a bank.