The Country Director, Oxfam International Nigeria, Mr Constant Tchona said the over 10,000 rural saving groups they established had accumulated over N2.5 billion within five years.
Tchona, disclosed this during a panel discussion in commemoration of the International Women’s Day (IWD) organised by the Nigeria for Women Project (NFWP) a World Bank Assisted Project held in Abuja on Tuesday.
According to him, the international organisation has established 10,000 saving groups across eight states in Nigeria.
“For the past five years, we have been able to establish over 10,000 savings groups across Nassarawa, Benue, Plateau, Bauchi, Taraba, Katsina, Adamawa and Kebbi states.
“ And the 10,000 groups have about 200,000 members with over 70 per cent of them women, collectively in terms of the assets, they have been able to accumulate N2.5 billion to this day.
“They use it for different services like petty trading, marketing, farming activities, they are using it for their children’s education, for their own health care and others,’’ he said.
According to him, these have further empowered the predominately rural women who make-up 70 per cent in the group with finances as well as opportunities to take responsibilities both in their homes and their communities.
“Basically, they are in the rural areas, we still have some scattered in Lagos, Delta and Enugu. But majority of them are in the other states earlier mentioned, he said.
According to him, most members of the groups reside in rural areas without access to the banking system, microfinance banks and others.
“ So what we have been able to do is to help them have that access to credit, savings and insurance,’’ he said.
Speaking on the benefits of improving economic productivity of women, Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Pauline Tallen said the benefits of the Women Affinity Groups managed by the NFWP would empower them with skills on record keeping, financial literacy, Gender Based Violence (GBV) prevention and risk mitigation and negotiation skills.
“The groups will also serve as an avenue to influencing social norms that limit women’s voice and participation in the community and household levels, decision making and access to critical economic opportunities,” Fallen said.
According to her, the economically active women in the groups are supported through provision of livelihoods grants and entrepreneurship skills and access to market based on sound analysis of the livelihood sectors and market demand they choose to identify with.
Also, the Country Director, World Bank, Shubham Chaudhuri said the organisation keyed into the Federal Government’s initiative of lifting over 100 million Nigerians out of poverty.
Chaudhuri added that they were working hard to ensure that Nigerian women had access to finance, education and some basic amenities.
Also, Dr Oyefunke Koleowo, Institutional Capacity Building Adviser, NFWP stressed the need to empower women to enable them take -up leadership roles.
Koleowo explained further that investing in women also empowered them with knowledge on savings and credit, investments and awareness on their rights.