Concern Universal Ghana

A two- day regional conference on financial inclusion to improve financial access to the poor is underway in Accra.

 Concern Universal GhanaThe conference which brings together 100 practitioners, including policy makers, civil society and microfinance clients aimed at showcasing experiences from sustainable and replicable models to enhance financial inclusion for development.

The workshop was organised by Concern Universal Ghana, an NGO is on the theme: ?Enhancing Financial Inclusion for the Poor and Difficult to Reach Population: The Role of Innovation and Information Communication Technology.?

Mrs Juliette Lampoh, Country Director of Concern Universal Ghana, said financial inclusion is a major development challenge in most African countries while available information indicated that 29 per cent of the adult population in the country has an account with a formal financial institution while 44 per cent has no access.

Mrs Lampoh noted that studies have shown that financial inclusion is significantly correlated with overall human development and underscores the need for people to aggressively pursue it especially the poor.

She said the informal sector; by serving 15 per cent of the adult population, has a major role in expanding the boundaries of financial inclusion especially in the field of saving mobilisation and credit provision.

Mrs Lampoh said her outfit has instituted a project dubbed: ?Banking for the Poor,? which brings appropriate financial services close to the excluded mostly the smallholder food crop farmers and rural micro-entrepreneurs.

The project is in partnership with the Afram Plains Development Organisation and funded by the European Commission through the European Union/African Caribbean Pacific Microfinance programme.

The project, which focuses mostly on women in the Brong Ahafo, Eastern and Volta Regions aimed at poverty and vulnerability reduction.

She added that the project is to build the capacity of 1,000 community savings and loans groups and their federations and empower at least 15,000 microfinance clients to access and effectively utilise financial services.

Mr Confidence Abotsi, Programme Manager of the NGO , said the organisation has formed and trained community savings and credit associations, establish research and technology adaptation and organise financial literacy programmes and entrepreneurship training for the rural population to have access to financial services.

Mr Abotsi said the project has facilitated the establishment of 620 community savings and credit associations enabling 15,500 beneficiaries to have access to savings and credit services and has been able to save GH? 2,617,253.20.

He said the beneficiaries of the project have invested their loans and funds from share-outs in expanding enterprises or diversifying household income while some farmers have started small off-farm enterprises to reduce dependence on rain-fed agriculture.

Mr William Hanna, Head of European Union (EU) Delegation to Ghana, said the Union welcomed government and other organisations in undertaken efforts to ensure supply and demand of financial services and development of national literacy strategy for micro finance sector.

He said the Union believes in micro finance as a tool to attain the Millennium Development Goals with its Development Aid Strategy which is linked to social inclusion and sustainable growth.

Mr Hanna said the EU would work with government to facilitate access to financial instruments and business development services to promote Small and Medium Enterprise development, growth and job creation.

He said the Union would follow the progress of the financial inclusion as a tool for promoting holistic and equitable development and contribute to the empowerment of the poorest in the country and Sub-Sahara Africa.

Dr Yaw Gyima-Larbi, Assistant Director, Bank of Ghana said government has launch a three- year programme on national literacy programme to widened the education of financial issues especially to rural poor.

He commended organisers for the workshop adding that it would broaden the horizon of participants to spread the education to its clients especially the rural poor and smallholder farmers on the need to save.

GNA

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