Although the CBN is still working out the draft of the guideline for such institutions to operate, findings show that these banks will be owned and run by women, while the customers will also be women. The banks, when they commence operation, are expected to assist rural women to establish businesses or sustain the existing ones, through their financial intermediation. It is believed that women are more credit-worthy than men, thus recording about 97 per cent repayment rate worldwide.
With poverty rate on the rise in Nigeria, especially women as the major victims, both regulatory authorities deem it fit to establish an institution that will understand women philosophy, interact with them freely and building poverty alleviation scheme through them.
The regular microfinance banks have over the years been struggling with high toxic assets, as their loan beneficiaries who are mainly men, hardly pay back. The level of default in the microfinance market, BusinessWorld authoritatively gathered, is even higher than the total amount of loans granted in the last one year.
Mr Umaru Ibrahim, managing director, NDIC, said the corporation is working with the apex bank with a view to promoting all-women MFBs. He said that because women are more reliable and honest, and that they repay loans on time, he believes creating a specially-made institution for them will not only lead to women financial development, it will spur grassroots growth built on women empowerment. If a woman is empowered, it will affect not only her, but the entire members of her family, so, it has a multiplier effect, he said.
He said that Kenya has used this methodology and it is very successful, adding that the country has studied the model and that it will suit the Nigerian society. Kenya has one of the biggest all-women MFBs in the world and if Nigeria could borrow a leaf from this, it should be acceptable, he said.
Ibrahim added that women development is the priority of the incumbent CBN governor, as he is floating series of funds in which women can benefit from.
Recent study shows that women constitute the majority of the poorest of the poor. In Nigeria, 70 per cent of people living below poverty line are women.