The Sierra Leone Ambassador to the Benelux countries, HE Samuel Tamba Musa, on Wednesday 1st of December presented Sierra Leone’s Microfinance landscape in his engagement with key players in the microfiancé sector in Luxembourg, the Head of Microfinance at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Director of Cooperation and Development and the CEO of Luxembourg House of Finance and Technology in Luxembourg.
In his presentation, Paul Weber, Head of Microfinance at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Director of Cooperation and Development disclosed that they are supporting the development of the microfinance and inclusive microfinance sectors. They have been involved in the microfinance sector for over 25 years. During the period, they have supported access to agricultural finance, markets, innovative practices for smallholder farmers, and supporting financial opportunities for the establishment of small and medium enterprises, and women’s access to finance.
He explained the various funding opportunities and the project they undertake as well as their four priority areas which include: improving access to quality basic social services, enhancing socio-economic integration of women and youth, strengthening inclusion governance and promoting inclusive and sustainable growth. He also spoke about the two projects they support in Sierra Leone.
The Microfinance Head made a disclosure of the Luxembourg inclusive finance ecosystem that includes other players like Luxembourg House of Financial Technology, the Bamboo Capital Partners and the ATTF House of training.
The CEO of Luxembourg House of Finance and Technology, Nasir Zubairu, in his statement, said most people all over the world depend on mobile phones to access information and that a study has shown that technology has helped a billion people in the past 10 to 12 years come out of poverty.
He also disclosed that they put particular focus on Sierra Leone and other countries that are seen as high priority countries for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Directorate for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs. He further added that they work on broader areas, which include supporting entrepreneurship, skills developments with linkages to the use of technology.
In his statement, Ambassador Samuel Tamba Musa stated that Luxembourg is the hub of the microfinance sector, adding that this necessitated his visit to their institutions.
The Sierra Leone Microfinance sector, he went on, is young and heterogeneous with the involvement of several players and models that provide different products and services to communities at different interest rates. The demand for microfinance products and services exceeds the supply. The huge demand presents an opportunity to invest in the sector to close the huge gap of unmet and underserved needs of communities.
Ambassador Musa expressed that the government is supportive of building an inclusive financial system and has made it part of the development objective of the national endeavour to promote small and medium enterprises as well as startups, especially the agricultural sector.
He explained that the government has increasingly fostered the microfinance development objective by investing in the MUNAFA fund managed by an independent agency called the Small, Medium Development Agency and implemented through Microfinance Institutions. This scheme charges interest rates leads to less burden on clients compared to other Micro Financial Institutions.
To this end, the Ambassador outlined his strategic objectives for the visit and agreed on actions to promote the building of synergy between the government and institutions in Luxembourg in the form of transfer of knowledge, technical support and investments to improve access to finance for small and medium enterprises that contribute to poverty reduction and creation of jobs.