NANCY SIAME, Lusaka
BANK of Zambia (BoZ) Governor Michael Gondwe has launched a US$50 million Fund under the MasterCard Foundationâ€™s Fund to support smallholder farmers in the rural areas.
Speaking during the launch of the project dubbed the â€œMaster Card Foundation Fund for Rural Prosperityâ€ in Lusaka yesterday, Master Card Foundation deputy director, financial inclusion Lindsay Wallace said the project is aimed at curbing rural poverty through enhancing access to finance.
Ms Wallace said many rural farmers do not have financial services that they need and this makes it difficult for them to have adequate finances.
â€œThis project will support innovative ideas that have the potential to grow the economy and also have a deep social impact on the lives of rural people living in poverty,â€ Ms Wallace said.
She also said other countries in the sub-Saharan Africa will be included in the fund.
Ms Wallace said the new fund will stimulate private sector organisations to provide affordable and accessible savings, credit and insurance products.
â€œThese services are essential to enable African farmers increase productivity and incomes and ultimately grow rural economics,â€ she said.
And Dr Gondwe said BoZ welcomes the launch of the fund because it complements efforts to increase access to finance in the rural population.
He said embracing such efforts is cardinal to creating possibilities and achieving increased access to financial survivors in the country and improve the welfare of many people.
â€œThe Bank plans to increase financial inclusion to 50 percent by end of this year from the 37 percent identified in 2009,â€ Dr Gondwe said.
He said the central bank will continue to monitor charges and fees in the banking and financial sector to ensure that there is no exploitation.
â€œFinancial products and services should be at reasonable cost which creates a win-win situation for both the provider and users,â€ he said.
NANCY SIAME, Lusaka