THE MICRO CREDIT PROJECT
A significant aspect of the mandate of the Obafemi Awolowo Foundation is the concern with poyerty alleviation. In furtherance of this mandate, the Foundation was quick to pick up the
challenge of the global movement for reaching . the world's poorest families with credit for self-employment. Building upon its earlier highly successful seminar on the theme "Leadership for Corporate Philanthropy", the Foundation embarked upon the microcredit Project.
The project was designed to position the Foundation as an effective advocate jmd a platform -for mobilizing awareness about micro credit among the general populace and other NGOs
in addition to generating support for the initiative from the private sector.
In collaboration with the World Bank Resident Mission in Nigeria, the Foundation prepared a document titled "Community Development Finance in Nigeria: Lessons, Opportunities and Challenges". This document is a comprehensive dossier of microcredit projects and practitioners in Nigeria. The document catalogues unique best
practices and the challenges facing microcredit groups in Nigeria. The document, which has been widely disseminated, is in aid of the campaign of advocacy in support of sustainable
provision of microcredlt to support the entrepreneurial activities of the poorest of the poor in Nigeria. Significantly, the dossier was the document which the Nigerian NGO practitioners took to the Microcredit Summit held in Washington DC, USA from 2-4 February 1997.
The Foundation also provided the auspices for the Pre-MicrocreditSummit Symposium in January 1997. The symposium provided microcredit practitioners the opportunity to showcase,
especially to the organized private sector, programmes that have proven successful in assisting the poor. An important outcome of the symposium was to dispel conveational notions at the poor cannot use credit effectively or generate sufficient income to save. Significantly, the symposium provided the opportunity of brokering the crucial initial contact between the
private sector and the practitioners.
The Obafemi Awolowo Foundation attended the Microcredit Summit held in Washington DC, USA in February 1997 as a member of the Council of Advocates, whose role in the attainment of the goal of the summit include education to generate awareness, policy development, fundraislng and research.
A Post-Microcredit Summit seminar to develop strategies and
models for sound linkages between formal financial institutions and NGOs
was held in July 1997.
The objectives of the seminar included developing strategies for meeting the
goals of the Summit in Nigeria, fostering collaborative initiatives. and consolidating -Iinkages between the private sector and NGOs in the fight for poverty alleviation.
The post -summit seminar was chaired by Chief Rufus Giwa, then Chairman,
Lever Brothers PIc. while Dr. Pat Utomi of the Lagos Business School
gave the keynote address.
In furtherance of its advocacy role in microcredit, the Foundation has also held a consultative meeting with representatives of mass media organisations to enlist their support and goodwill for the dissemination of appropriate information to the public.
The Foundation is also currently involved in a review of the Law and Policy Environment to assist in creating a positive legal/policy environment for microcredit institutions.