The Rural Finance Institution Building Programme (RUFIN) is a Loan Agreement of US$27.2 million between the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Federal Government of Nigeria.The central objective of the programme is to develop and strengthen Micro Finance Banks (MFBs), other member-based Micro Finance Institutions (MFls), by enhancing the access of the rural populace to the services of these institutions in order to expand and improve agricultural productivity and Micro-Small Rural Enterprises.
The goal is to alleviate poverty with a particular focus on the rural poor and especially women, youth and the physically challenged.
The programme is being implemented along with four (4) participating institutions namely; the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP), Nigerian Agricultural Cooperative and Rural Development Bank (NACRDB) and the Federal Department of Cooperatives (FDC).
Under the programme the following categories of Non-Bank Micro Finance Institutions i.e. Cooperative Societies, Unions and Cooperative Finance Agencies (CFAs). Neo-Micro Finance Institutions and Grassroot lnformal Finance Institutions would be supported in the needed areas of capacity building and access to loanable funds. This is with a view to establishing appropriate linkages with micro finance banks/ institutions and commercial banks for credit delivery to the rural populace.
The FGN and IFAD supported Rural Finance Institution Building Programme (RUFIN) has within one and half years of the implementation impacted on the stabilization of the Rural Microfinance sector in collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). The programme has been mentoring some selected MFBs, Financial NGOs, Financial Cooperatives and the Informal/Community Credit and Savings Organisations in the twelve (12) participating states.
The programme also developed a training manual for capacity building of MFBs and financial NGOs. The thirty three (33) MFBs, ten (10) Financial NGOs selected from the outcome of Risk Institutional Assessment of NDIC/CBN and the over 4,000 Community Based Credit and Savings Organisations in the past one and half years have been subjected to vigorous capacity building and provision of necessary hardware and software ICT equipment. In line with the identified gaps from the Risk/Institutional Assessment for MFBs, Financial NGOs and Financial Cooperatives, a tailor made curriculum was designed, to ensure their capacitation. Office equipment such as desktop computers and hardware were distributed to 32 participating MFBs.
As part of the capacity building of MFls, MFBs and RMFls, which is one of the core mandates of the programme, RUFIN trained 27 MFBs (MDs/Credit Officers) on product development. This has resulted in improved financial products piloted by MFBs and increased deposit mobilization. Also, 33 MFBs have been trained on Risk Management while 1,524 staff of RMFls were trained on Gender Learning and Action System, Making Microfinance Work, Enterprise Management and Governance and entrepreneurial Skill Development.
In order to enhance client outreach through establishing linkages between RMFls and formal Banks, 3,516 Rural Microfinance Institutions have been linked with formal banks. A total of N66,598,865.88 of voluntary savings have been mobilized from 31,149 savers in the 12 participating states. Out of these 44.68% of these savers were women, while 55.32% were men. A further analysis showed that 20.69% were youths while 0.91 % are physically challenged.
The total wholesale credit amounting to N134,756,484 was provided to the village savings and credit associations for onward lending to their members/ clients in the participating states.
The programme has formed and strengthened 6,295 village credit and savings groups consisting of 149,990 members in the 12 participating states. In addition, 529 RMFls with 1413 members were trained on gender learning and action system, making microfinance work and governance etc in 11 states consisting of 875 men and 38 women.
Access to credit facilities has increased by 122.24% from N60,636,845.45 in June, 2011 to N134,756,484 in February, 2012. Savings mobilization, increased by 226.23% from N20, 546,189.43 in December, 2010 to the current value of N67,562,505.88 in February, 2012.
An Online Report Rendition Workshop conducted in collaboration with Other Financial Institutions Supervision Department (OFISD) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for Micro Finance Banks in the country. In an effort to facilitate increased wholesale lending and refinance facility for the Microfinance Institutions, the Bank of Agriculture (BOA) dedicated N1 million for the refinancing of MFBs in 2011.
In addition, the two Apex organisations – the National Association of Non-Bank Micro Finance Institutions and the National Association of Micro Finance Banks are being capacitated in the area of capacity building and ICT equipment to enable the two institutions carry out oversight functions on the entire Micro Finance Institutions in Nigeria.