MICRO-FINANCE AND ITS CONTRIBUTION TO POVERTY ALLEVIATION IN THE BUEA MUNICIPALITY. CASE STUDY: NTARIKON CREDIT UNION
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Microfinance, also called microcredit is a type of banking service provided to unemployed or low-income individuals or groups who otherwise would have no other access to financial services. While institutions participating in the area of microfinance most often provide lending, microloans can range from as small as 100 to as large as $ 2500, (kagan, 2022).Many banks offer additional service such as checking and saving account as well as micro insurance product and some even provide financial and business education. The goal of a microfinance is to ultimately give impoverished people an opportunity to become self-sufficient. Finance is defined as the management of money, including activities such as investing, lending, budgeting, saving, and forecasting. There are three main types of finance- personal, corporate and pubic/ government.
Poverty is a condition in which a person of a community is deprived of the basic essentials and necessities for a minimum standard of living. Poverty affects millions of people in Cameroon, and in Buea in particular. Poverty means not to being able to feed your home, pay rent, or buy the essential for your children. This means waking up each day facing insecurity, uncertainty and impossible decisions about money, it also means facing marginalization and even discrimination because of your financial circumstance. The constant stress it causes can lead to problems that deprive people of the chance to play a full part in the society especially in the Buea municipality.
The introduction of microfinance (MIF) in Buea is seen as the best alternative source of the financial services it renders to the inhabitant especially the student, low-income earners as a means to raise their income, hence reducing their poverty level and contributing to the country’s economy. (Urio, 2006). Microfinance is not only this, but it also has a broader prospective which also include insurance, transactional services, and importantly saving (Barri, 2005).
Micro-finance allows people to take on unreasonable small business loan safely and in a manner that is consistent with ethical lending practice. Although they exist all around the world, the majority of micro finance operation occur in developing nations such as Cameroon. Many micro finance institutions focus on helping women in particular.
Micro finance is not a new concept because small operations have existed since the 18th century. There are other micro finance operations around the world. Some larger organization work closely with the world bank, while other smaller groups operate in different nations. Some organization enable lenders to choose exactly who they want to support, categorizing borrowers with criterias such as level of poverty, geographic regions and types of small business.
This study has as case study the Ntarikon Credit Union particularly the Buea branch. Ntarikon credit union is not different from other microfinance organization in the world and her activities are expected to greatly influence the alleviation of poverty in the Buea municipality which is what this study looks at.
The first credit union started in Njinikom, NW Region of Cameroon in 1963 with a membership of 16 and a total saving of 2.100frs CFA. The concept rapidly spread over the NW and SW Region. By 1986, there were 34 credit union in Cameroon. The Cameroon cooperative credit union league CAMCCUL limited is the umbrella organ of more than 200 credit unions. It is the largest micro-finance institute in Cameroon and the CEMAC region. In Cameroon, there are 208 credit union that also offers micro-finance services (George Nahodil,1968).
The importance of microfinance institutions cannot be over emphasized as they, provide immediate funds to members and create access to credit with a better rate of loan repayment. They equally provide for those who go unnoticed an opportunity to receive education. They also ensure the possibility of future investments which comes along the creation of new job opportunities hence creating employment. Their services improve on the economic gain thereby increasing the standard of living of its members.
This study examines the role played by microfinance to alleviate poverty in the Buea municipality. This is because despite the existence of many micro-finance within the municipality, there is still a persistence of poverty and low standard of living. It must however be noted that, a micro-finance bank has a mission to empower communities financially, making sure that members can meet up with some cost and investment projects. Microfinance is an effective development tool for promoting entrepreneurship and alleviating poverty. Financial services enable poor and low income house- holds to take advantage of economic opportunities, build asset and reduce their vulnerability to external shock that adversely affect their living standard, yet much remain unclear about whether and how microcredit can help the poor to improve their lives and hence alleviate poverty. Evidently enough, micro-finance institution has been a tool for fighting serval economic challenges, poverty inclusive. However little research work has been done to actually determine the effect of micro-finance institutions in poverty reduction in Cameroon therefore, the reason for the research. It is for this reason that the researcher researches on the effect of poverty alleviation of micro-finance services in Buea south west region of Cameroon in considering the main microfinance services, that is micro credit, savings, training and micro insurance. This study examine the role played by micro-finance to alleviate poverty in the Buea municipality. All these issues have raised concerns toward investigating the effect of micro-finance institutions on poverty alleviation (Zeller and meyer2002).
- What are the impact of MFIs services on poverty alleviation?
- How does micro-finance institutions contribute to poverty alleviation?
- What are the lending models used by MFIs to advance credit to clients?