Social Lender Partners OCP Africa in Expanding reach of its Financial Services to rural Communities

 

More than 60% of smallholder farmers in Nigeria do not have Bank Verification Number (BVN) and are currently unbanked or underbanked. To alleviate this pertinent problem, Social Lender, a Fintech company has partnered with OCP Africa, to bring financial services to Nigerians especially those in the agriculture value chain.


Back in 2019, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had stated its readiness to increase the number of bank account holders enrolled on the Bank Verification (BVN) System from over 40 million to 100 million within the next 5 years. However, as at August 2020, the total number of BVN registrations in Nigeria was only 43.2 million in a country with more than 100 million Adults.


In agriculture, with millions of small holder farmers, the lack of BVN is just one of the many indicators of the lack of Financial Inclusion leading to lack of Economic Inclusion and in many cases poverty experienced by smallholder farmers and other players in the Agriculture value chain. Helping these people improve their lives, is a major objective for the Social Lender and OCP Africa partnership.

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. Speaking at the launch event, which held in Karshi Market, Abuja on 7th July, 2020, the Honourable Minister of State for Agriculture & Rural Development, Alhaji Mustapha Shehuri appreciated the efforts to bring viable solutions and attributable impact to the lives of farmers in Nigeria.

Speaking about the collaboration and its value to smallholder farmers, Caleb Usoh, Country Manager, OCP Africa Fertilizers Nigeria said the aim is to ensure financial inclusion of a larger percentage of smallholder farmers in the country through BVN registrations and Financial Literacy training. This would prepare them for access to competitive financial services provided by top institutions in the country and beyond, and help improve their livelihood.

 

Usoh said Social Lender emerging one of the winners of the prized grant of the OCP supported Impulse Start-up Accelerator challenge fund program – has boosted the partnership and is reflected in the increased number of beneficiaries who have accessed the services on offer.

He asserted that the partnership in the first year would see Social Lender leveraging on OCP Africa’s existing 51 retail input distribution hubs called the One Stop Shop, spread across rural farming communities in Nigeria, to provide: Financial literacy trainings, Financial inclusions through creation of BVN accounts, Mobile money services and Credit profiling and linkages to farmers to obtain small scale input loans.

This satisfies the goal of both OCP Africa and Social Lender to improve the quality of lives of individuals within these communities and to target a hundred thousand farmers with the intention of empowering them over the course of the program, he added.
Speaking about the programme and how it had impacted him, Jibril Mansur, one of the beneficiaries in Kaduna lauded the initiative. He was happy that his BVN registration was stress-free. The closest location where Jibril Mansur could get BVN registration done was almost 2 hours away from where he lives. Considering the immense cost, he chose not to join the financial ecosystem until now that the financial inclusion programme has been brought right into his community.

Hajiya Aisha, one of the customers in Kano, expressed how this opportunity is changing her life. She is currently gradually being upgraded from a state of being unbanked (no bank account, no BVN, no access to credit) to a state where she would be doing 10 monthly transactions in the formal financial system. (This is level 10 on Social Lender’s digital financial inclusion journey).

Hajiya Uwani, another beneficiary in Kano state, while thanking OCP and Social Lender for the initiative, expressed joy about how seamless the process has been. She identified that she was now being upgraded and was happy for the opportunity made available to her.
The CEO of Social Lender, Faith Adesemowo further reiterated the importance of the partnership. She invited other organisations who are interested in serving the huge market segment to partner with Social Lender, a company that is currently building the infrastructure and low cost distribution model needed to serve the unbanked and underbanked.

In her words, “we are building an innovative solution to serve this market effectively. The Social Reputation score is the main asset. For the offline market, we started with a pilot back in 2018 with CGAP, a division of the World Bank. Seeing the impact and potential, last year 2019, We scaled to 6 states and our first two Northern Nigeria states with the help of EFINA. Now partnering with OCP, we will be adding 31 more locations bringing our total coverage to 14 states in Nigeria”.

Reacting to questions regarding the startup pivoting to become Agritech, Faith Adesemowo explained “We are 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”.

About the Partnership

The partnership is aimed at offering financial services at OCP Africa locations across Nigeria. Some of the services on offer include but are not limited to Financial Literacy and Education Sessions, Bank Verification Number (BVN) Registration (Biometrics), Bank Account Opening, Social Lender Onboarding & Social Reputation Scoring,Cash Withdrawal Services via Social Lender Platform, Electronic Payment via Social Lender Platform, Cash Deposit & Collections Services, Input Credit (starting with Fertilizer) based on Social Reputation Score, Bridge Financing / Access to Quick Cash based on Social Reputation Score, Micro insurance and much more.

This partnership will allow OCP Africa to work with Social Lender to provide access to finance for farmers. OCP Africa is currently in 31 locations across 11 states in the country. Social Lender is also currently running its own program in 6 states across the country. This partnership would allow for these touchpoints to be used as hubs for all of Social Lender and OCP’s financial inclusion and community empowerment programs. This is a joint effort between Social Lender and OCP to improve the quality of lives of individuals within these communities. The aim is to target tens of thousands of farmers with the intention of empowering them over the course of the program. A large number of these farmers lack financial literacy and the programme is geared towards financially liberating these farmers.

 

 

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. Social Lender 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. Social Lender 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 g justuaranteed 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.

More on Social Lender at www.sociallenderng.com

 

About OCP Africa

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.

 

OCP Africa is rapidly growing its reach in Nigeria, partnering with farmers, distributors, and local stakeholders to foster a thriving agriculture-business ecosystem. Our primary focus in Nigeria includes educating farmers and members of the supply chain about fertilizer needs, best practices and increasing farmers’ access to finance and markets.
More on OCP Africa at www.ocpafrica.com