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04.11.2008 Business & Finance

Women Appeal For More Flexible Credit

By Kingsley Asare -

Participants at a day's sensitisation workshop on micro-finance have called on banks and the micro finance institutions to develop products tailored at the rural poor, especially women.

This, according to the participants, would enhance women's access to credit as well as improve the income of rural women.

The workshop was organised by the Christian Mothers' Association  of the Catholic church on Wednesday to make known findings of a study on rural women's access to credit  commissioned by it to stakeholders in the banking and the microfinance sector.

The workshop was on the theme: 'Improving Micro-finance services for the rural woman in Ghana', It was sponsored by the Business Advocacy Challenge (BUSAC) Fund.

It was attended by representatives of the Christian Mothers' Association all over the country, women's' groups, banks and stakeholders in the banking and micro-finance sector.

The participants also called on the banks and micro-finance institutions to be flexible in their demand for collateral security before they give out loans.

According to the 2000 Ghana Statistical Service report, although “women's contribution to the productive sector is significant,” women, particularly those in the rural areas, lack full access to financial services.

The study which took a year to complete and led by Dr Irene S. Egyir revealed, among other things, that women in the rural areas find it difficult to access micro-finance credit from the banks and micro-finance institutions.

The objective of the study is to document the current situation of barriers to access of micro credit to rural women micro entrepreneurs as well as document the activities of Micro Financial Institutions to form the basis of an advocacy action to bring out the desired change.

It also said high interest rate, long procedure prior to granting of loan and “save-before-credit” are factors that serve as barriers and access of micro loan by rural women.

The study said micro credit has had a positive impact on the livelihood of rural women over the years.

The findings further revealed low income, the inability to save and inadequate knowledge of credit terms were major constraints to seeking capital by rural women.

The study among other things suggested training and capacity building for rural women on financial management.

It also called on the banks and the microfinance institutions to develop products tailored at the rural women.

The study further called for measures to mitigate the effects of high interest rates on microfinance services for rural women.

In an interview with the Executive Secretary of the Christina Mothers' Association, Mrs Elizabeth Addai-Boateng she bemoaned the lack of access to capital of rural women.