RUFIN has empowered women economically, women groups say

Some women groups, which benefitted from the Rural Finance Institution Programme (RUFIN), said that the programme had particularly empowered women economically.
The beneficiary groups from Agbowa-Ikosi, Ejirin and Mutaku communities in Epe Local Government Area of Lagos State commended RUFIN for improving the lot of women and households in the neighbourhood.
Representatives of the women groups told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Agbowa-Ikosi on Tuesday that the programme had made women to become more relevant in their various households.
Mrs Bridget Okute, President, God’s Time Cooperative Society, said that since the women now had a stable source of income, their husbands had been showing more respect for them.
She said that members of her group were now able to feed their families and take care of other domestic tasks, adding that they also garnered more respect from their husbands.
“Our husbands do not chastise us again because we now assist them financially; unlike before when we had to wait for them before we could meet most of our financial obligations.
“RUFIN has helped us; for instance, in the cooperative society which I coordinate, we, the members, are now more dignified; we are now able to expand our farms and grow varieties of crops; we are even employers of labour,’’ she said.
Okute said that the members of the cooperative society were now more educated on how to save money, accumulate funds and access credit facilities.
“In my group, we have been able to manage our internal funds judiciously; we also have links with micro-finance banks, where we can access loans within a short period.
“Some of the micro-finance banks give us loans at 2.2 per cent rate and have even increased our borrowing capacity from N30, 000 to N100, 000 to N300, 000 at the same percentage.
“I am glad to tell you that we are now financially independent; we give internal loans to our members and even run a group credit account,’’ she said.
Also speaking, Mrs Ronke Sherumukuma, a member of the group, said that she only had a smattering knowledge of cassava farming until she attended a RUFIN capacity-building workshop.
“During the workshop, there were practical and participatory presentations on cassava and maize farming as well as piggery; thereafter, we were linked to micro-finance banks.
“I was given a N30,000 loan, with a three-month moratorium and payment plan; today, I have a big cassava and pineapple farm, and I am currently planning to obtain a N400,000 loan,’’ she said.
Sherumukuma also commended the micro-finance banks for their liberal loan schemes with low interest rates.
Mrs Roselyn Apebe, a member of Able Farmers’ Cooperative Society in Agbowa-Ikosi, also thanked the micro-finance banks for making lives easy for them.
“With their help, I am now a big-time farmer with large cocoa yam and cassava farms; I have also expanded my farming activities, while venturing into other businesses.
Besides, Mr Omoseyinde Johnson, a member of Lofi Men and Women Cooperative Society in Ejirin, Epe, said that the easy access of the group to credit facilities had empowered its members economically, as a number of them now owned fishing canoes.
He noted that RUFIN had established various partnership and linkage schemes to help small farmers and others to break away from the yoke of poverty and prosper.

He said that such linkages had facilitated the evolution of strong synergies, thereby strengthening the impact of the programme, particularly in the areas of capacity building, financial linkages and knowledge sharing, among others.
He said that RUFIN had created an enabling environment for micro-finance schemes to thrive in the country, adding that their impact was now more pronounced among RUFIN beneficiaries in the rural areas, leading to success stories.
NAN reports that RUFIN was implemented in 12 states across the six geo-political zones of the country, with two states from each zone benefitting from it.
The programme is funded by the Federal Government and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

RUFIN has ended in May but some beneficiaries underscored the need to restart the programme and extend it to states, which hitherto had not benefited from it, because of its positive impact on the rural populace.  


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