About 500,000 farmers and vulnerable people in Nigeria’s North-East zone can now access farming friendly and demand-driven financial services, courtesy of a collaboration involving First City Monument Bank (FCMB) and Mercy Corps, an international aid organisation.
Supported by USAID-funded Feed the Future Nigeria Rural Resilience Activity, the partnership will deliver funding and capacity-building support to smallholder farmers and vulnerable people living in the conflict-affected states of Adamawa, Borno, Gombe and Yobe.
The Feed the Future Nigeria Rural Resilience Activity aims to facilitate and promote economic recovery and growth in the vulnerable, conflict-affected areas and sustainably move people out of chronic vulnerability and poverty through expanded opportunities.
Speaking during the MoU signing ceremony on August 25, 2021 in Lagos, the Managing Director of FCMB, Mrs Yemisi Edun, expressed appreciation to Mercy Corps and other partners for confidence in the bank’s capability to drive the initiative successfully.
She said: “We are delighted to play another crucial role in developing our local communities and society at large. This partnership will significantly improve the living standards of farmers and other vulnerable people by boosting food sufficiency and reducing poverty. It will also de-escalate insecurity in the North-East. All of these align with FCMB’s commitment to creating opportunities for individuals and businesses to attain their growth potential.”
Also speaking, the Country Director of Mercy Corps Nigeria, Mr Ndubisi Anyanwu, stated that the project is a practical expression of Mercy Corps’ mission to help realise a Nigeria that is empowered, engaged and secure especially in the most marginalised parts of the country.
Anyanwu said: “This partnership with FCMB is a key milestone for the work we do here and in the global space. It contributes to our strategic objectives of improving market systems development through community facilitation and private sector partnerships.
“Also, the partnership will avail essential financial services and products to over 500,000 farmers in Adamawa, Benue, Borno, Federal Capital Territory, Gombe, Kebbi, Niger, Ebonyi and Yobe. 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.”
The Chief of Party, Feed the Future Nigeria Rural Resilience Activity, Mrs Margarita Aswani, said: “We are delighted that this partnership will enable FCMB to adapt its loan products and offerings to fit the context in North-East Nigeria. It will empower farmers, small ruminant producers, and microenterprise owners to grow their businesses and increase yields. The Activity proudly aims to facilitate access to national and international technical expertise to support FCMB’s strategies for expanding to new and emerging agricultural markets in North-East Nigeria.”
The FCMB and Mercy Corps intervention targets smallholder farmers and micro-enterprises working in the agricultural and non-agricultural sectors with a particular interest in young people and women. The scope covers maize, cowpea, groundnuts, rice production, and animal husbandry. Beneficiaries will also have access to agricultural inputs, financial services, and literacy programmes.
FCMB will introduce smallholder farmers and micro-enterprises in the North-East to bespoke financial services, particularly credit, savings, insurance, and payment platforms. In addition, the Bank will deploy loan products that include Easy Club, SME Development Finance Facility, SME Assets Finance Facility, SME Working Capital Facility, SME Invoice Discounting Facility and E Don Beta, to enable the farmers have adequate opportunities that would enhance their productivity as required by the Rural Resilience Activity initiative.
The Feed the Future Nigeria Rural Resilience Activity will also build the capacity of smallholder farmers and SMEs to improve their technical, business management and soft skills through technical and enterprise development training and information from its team of experts.