A group affiliated to the United Kingdom’s government, the Enhancing Financial Innovation & Access (EFInA) has launched a £2 million COVID Fund to support solutions that can reasonably provide succor to the debilitating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on low-income individuals/households and MSMEs in Nigeria. The funds, provided by the UK Government’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), is expected to support financial service-enabled solutions for access to liquidity, healthcare, and food. This disclosure was made by the British Deputy High Commissioner, Ben Llewellyn-Jones, during a webinar on December 8th, which was focused on how to address most challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic in developing nations.
According to the EFInA’s Chief Executive Officer, Ashley Immanuel, “the pandemic has affected Nigeria in many ways as evidenced through job losses, increases in prices, and access to liquidity. This is the time to promote innovative digital solutions, and the £2 million COVID Fund represents another response in enabling citizens to access financial services.” Adding that “many households are experiencing food insecurity, reduced income, and challenges accessing required health services and the widespread use of digital financial services can help address these challenges.”
“Our scenario analysis shows that innovative digital financial services can strengthen recovery and resilience. The three most pressing needs that we aim to solve with the COVID-19 Fund are access to Liquidity, Healthcare & Food. We need innovative solutions that provide access to credit, enable income-earning opportunities, facilitate electronic payments, and help people get money more quickly. EFInA seeks to fund solutions that enable access for vulnerable and excluded groups including women and those in rural and northern areas.”
Bunmi Lawson, a Director at EFInA said that “many financial institutions require increased access to funds, which has provided the opportunity for organizations such as LINKS to support businesses by providing wage subsidies. However, this is not enough, as there is a need to continue to develop innovative solutions that will help de-risk growing businesses. There is also need for partnerships with mobile networks that are independent businesses to make cash available through digital transfers and allow faster access to funds.”
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“The grant is a £2 million fund to help increase access to credit; enables value chains, increase household access to food and provide solutions to improve access to health care. Applicants must have or partner with an organization that has a proven track record of success for providing digital financial services. We will pay attention to projects that are sustainable, can scale post-funding, and focus on gender inclusivity. Existing financial service providers can also apply to scale their current operations.”
This grant will focus on supporting solutions that can mitigate the far-reaching impact of COVID-19 on low-income individuals/households (defined as those earning N50,000 or less per month) and MSMEs in Nigeria. The objective of the EFInA COVID-19 Grant is to support the scale of financial service-enabled solutions that enables immediate access to liquidity, healthcare and food, and EFInA is dedicating a fund size of £2 million towards achieving this, with an individual grant range between £50,000 and £500,000.
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