By Abdulrahman Kadiri
LAPO, Micro-finance Bank (MfB) is collaborating with Mercy Corps, an international NGO, to support smallholder farmers in Borno, Adamawa, Yobe and Gombe states.
Both organisations consummated the collaboration on Saturday, in Abuja, while signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to that effect.
Cynthia Ikponmwosa, Managing Director of LAPO MfB, said that the collaboration was in furtherance of the bank’s mandate of social and economic empowerment of vulnerable members of the society.
Ikponmwosa said that the MfB promoted interventions like access to financial services to small holder farmers and other Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in Nigeria.
“This MoU re-emphasises our 30-year mandate of economic empowerment of members of the low income households, who are the most vulnerable.
“We further contribute to enhancing financial inclusion and rural economic resilience,” she said.
She expressed hope for a fruitful collaboration with Mercy Corps in their bid to support smallholder farmers in parts of the insurgency-ravaged North East to improve their farming yields and economic power.
Ndubisi Anyanwu, Country Director of Mercy Corps, said that the corps was a global human development organisation committed to uplifting the lives of vulnerable people worldwide.
Anyanwu said that the MoU with LAPO MfB had created an opportunity to further expand and promote economic growth, whilst reducing hunger amongst vulnerable Nigerians.
“This is our decade of operation in Nigeria and we have been able to empower thousands of our vulnerable beneficiaries in the areas of financial inclusion, education, income generation, agriculture, sanitation and hygiene.
“These are our areas of focus. This MoU gives us the opportunity to expand our impact of promoting agriculture, promoting economic growth, whilst reducing hunger, ” he said.
He added that the collaboration with LAPO would reduce poverty and increase access to improved agricultural practices and increased financial inclusion for vulnerable people in the North East.
“It is the coming together of like-minds to improve agricultural practices and economic activities for the country, ” he said.
Margarita Aswani, Mercy Corps ‘ Chief of Party, said that the project was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), with the support of the International Fertiliser Development Centre (IFDC).
“We started off at $30million dollars, in July, 2021, they gave us an additional $50million dollars.
“Our goal is to directly benefit 540, 000 smallholder farmers and producers. They also want us to extend to Benue, Kebbi, Ebonyi and Niger states, ” she said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the MoU was in furtherance of Mercy Corps’ “Feed the Future ” initiative, a five-year USAID-funded programme to facilitate economic recovery and growth in conflict-affected areas. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)
By Abdulrahman Kadiri