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Robust economic growth cannot be achieved without putting in place well focused programmes that increase access of poor and low income earners to factors of production, especially credit. Microfinance is about providing financial services to the poor who are traditionally not served by the conventional financial institutions.
In Nigeria, a large percentage of the population is still excluded from financial services. The 2010 EFInA study revealed a marginal increase of those served by formal financial market from 35.0 percent in 2005 to 36.3 percent in 2010, five (5) years after the launching of the microfinance policy. When those that had financial services from the informal sector such as savings clubs/pools, Esusu, Ajo, and money lenders were included, the total access percentage for 2010 was 53.7 percent which means that 46.3 percent or 39.2 million adult population were financially excluded in Nigeria.
Against the backdrop of concerns expressed by stakeholders and the need to enhance financial services delivery, the 2005 Microfinance Policy, Regulatory and Supervisory Framework for Nigeria was Revised in April, 2011, and in exercise of the powers conferred on the Central Bank of Nigeria by the provisions of Section 28, sub-section (1) (b) of the CBN Act 24 of 1991 (as amended) and in pursuance of the provisions of Sections 56-60(a) of the Bank and Other Financial Institutions Act (BOFIA) 25 of 1991 (as amended). The policy recognizes existing informal institutions and brings them within the supervisory purview of the CBN creating a platform for the regulation and supervision of microfinance banks (MFBs) through specially crafted Regulatory Guidelines.
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