As part of efforts to alleviate the suffering of Nigerians in the rural communities during the Covid-19 crisis, over 100,000 smallholder farmers have got personalized financial services, even as Social Lender – a fintech company and OCP Africa – one of the largest fertilizer companies in Africa are working together.
More than 60% of smallholder farmers in Nigeria do not have Bank Verification Number (BVN) and are currently unbanked or under-banked.
To alleviate this problem, Social Lender has collaborated with OCP Africa to bring financial services to Nigerians especially those in the value chain.
Millions of smallholder farmers lack BVN. It is one of many indicators of the absence of financial inclusion. This has led to a lack of economic inclusion and poverty among these farmers and other stakeholders.
The Country Manager, OCP Africa Fertilizers Nigeria, Caleb Usoh said that the aim of the partnership “is to ensure financial inclusion of a larger percentage of smallholder farmers in the country through BVN registrations and financial literacy training”.
According to him, the collaborative effort will alleviate their sufferings and help them to improve their lives. He added that the collaboration with Social Lender would help to prepare the farmers to gain access to competitive financial services provided by top institutions in Nigeria and beyond, and help improve their livelihood.
Explaining how the partnership was formed with Social Lender, Usoh said the company emerged as one of the winners of the prized grant of the OCP-supported Impulse Start-up Accelerator challenge fund programme.
“This has boosted the partnership and is reflected in the increased number of beneficiaries who have accessed the services on offer”, he said.
The partnership would allow Social Lender the opportunity to leverage OCP Africa’s existing 51 retail input distribution hubs called the One Stop Shop, which is spread across rural farming communities in Nigeria.
Social Lender would provide several services to the farmers which include a series of financial literacy training, financial inclusion through the creation of BVN accounts, mobile money and credit profiling as well as helping the farmers to obtain small scale loans.
The Chief Executive Officer of Social Lender, Faith Adesemowo reiterated the importance of the partnership by inviting other organisations interested in serving the huge market segment to collaborate with Social Lender. She informed that her company “is currently building a low cost distribution infrastructure” model needed to serve the unbanked and under banked.
“We are building an innovative solution to serve this market effectively. The Social Reputation score is our main asset. For the offline market, we have started with a pilot in 2018 with CGAP, a division of the World Bank. Working with EFINA, we have scaled to six states including two Northern states. With OCP Africa partnership, we will add 31 locations and cover 14 states,” she said.
Adesemowo said the company is a fintech that works across all industries. “We have just chosen to have a strategic focus in agriculture due to the fact that a large number of the financially excluded are a part of this demography. Social Lender may someday become a full agritech but for now, we are fintech working in agriculture”, she said.
The Chief Operating Officer of Social Lender, Mudiaga Ogboru said that partnership with OCP has further unlocked the value in the agricultural value chain, as more farmers have gained access to formal financial service like agro-loans, equipment leasing financing, fertilizer on credit, quality seeds and other agro-necessity.
“We are building a network for trust, credit and much more. For us, financial literary is the bedrock for financial inclusion and economic inclusion. We have built a robust financial literacy curriculum that is sufficiently equipped and digestible to the farmers because it is communicated in a language that is most comfortable for the farmers,” he said.
Many farmers have already benefitted from the partnership. One of them, Jibril Mansur, from Kaduna, lauded the initiative. He has joined the financial ecosystem programme because it was brought to his community.
Hajiya Aisha, another beneficiary from Kano expressed how the opportunity has changed her life. She is currently gradually being upgraded from an unbanked customer with no bank account, BVN, and access to credit into the formal financial system. “This is a level 10 on Social Lender’s digital financial inclusion journey”, Ogboru explained.
Ogboru said the partnership was launched as part of the OCP Africa Covid-19 palliative intervention which was implemented in 32 locations across 12 states in Nigeria.
More about Social Lender
Social Lender helps financial institutions and other organizations offer financial services based on social reputation to individuals who are under-banked or have little or no access to formal financial services. It is a digital financial service solution based on social reputation on mobile, online, offline and social community platforms.
The solution is designed to bridge the gap of immediate access for people with limited access to formal financial services.
It uses its own proprietary algorithm to perform a social audit of the user on mobile, online, offline and social platforms and gives a Social Reputation Score to each user.
Financial services are guaranteed by the user’s social profile and network. Users gain access to services like credit, savings, leasing and much more from banks and other organisations based on their social reputation.
Created in 2016, OCP Africa, a subsidiary of OCP Group, aims to contribute to the development of integrated agricultural ecosystems in Africa. OCP Africa works hand in hand with farmers to enhance the agricultural potential of the African continent through solutions adapted to local conditions and to the needs of soils and crops.
In partnership with a network of partners, including governments, non-profit organizations, and companies, OCP Africa works continuously to put all the necessary conditions for the benefit of farmers.
OCP Africa is present in many African countries through the opening of subsidiaries and/or representative offices (Ivory Coast, Senegal, Cameroon, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Zambia, Benin, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, and Rwanda). It is also helping to secure the production of affordable fertilizers near major agricultural pools, to strengthen its logistical capacities and to develop new local distribution networks.