Agona Nyakrom (C/R), Jan 25, GNA - The Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs extended 150 billion cedis under the Micro-Finance programme to women farmers, food evacuators, processors, traders and tye and dye makers to expand their businesses over the past three years. Mrs Gladys Asmah, Acting Minister of Women and Children Affairs who announced this at the 27th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Nyakrom Rural Bank at Agona Nyakrom said the Ministry had turned to the Women's Development Fund (WDF) providing equipment to tailors, dress makers and beauticians under a "Work and Pay" tools project.
She said the Ministry would support rural women subsistence farmers and trader financially to help then to raise their incomes and living standards to enable them to become effective partners of their husbands in caring for their children.
Mrs Asmah stated that through the micro-finance programme, over 200,000 women have so far opened bank accounts thereby inculcating the habit of saving in them while the rural and community banks also used the huge sum of money involved in their operations.
She said the Ministry wanted rural banks participating in the Micro-Finance programme to sustain and intensify their educational programmes to encourage the beneficiaries to expand their businesses and add value to their produce.
Mrs Asmah said the Ministry had reached an understanding with banks to the effect that beneficiaries of the Women's Development Fund would deposit a specified sum of money to serve as collateral to enable them the financial institutions to extend credit to support women engaged in food production, non traditional crops, food processing and trading. She noted that the empowerment of women economically and financially by the government was giant step to accelerate the economic development of the country.
The Acting Minister said, "The government's strategic response to ensure that women, as partners of men are supported to enhance their contributions to the home economy to ensure the availability of food on the family table is step in a right direction".
Mrs Asmah stated that with an increase in the income of women the level of school-dropout, street children and other social problems would decline.
Dr Samuel Dufu, Chairman of the Board of Directors said that the Bank registered a pre tax profit of 400 million cedis.
He stated that during the period from 2002 to 2003 the total deposit increased to 6.9 billion cedis from 4.9 billion cedis, adding that, its investments also moved up from 1.4 billion cedis to 2.2 billion cedis. Dr Dufu said the Bank also granted 3.05 billion cedis to customers as loans in 2003 as compared to 1.8 billion cedis in 2002 representing an increase of 169 percent.
He said the Bank purchased 11,035,102,500 cedis worth of Akuafo Cheques in 2003 as against 7,756,150,500 in the previous year. The Chairman said the Bank disbursed 490 million from the Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs to over 480 individuals and groups. .