Ghana: SIF commits 25 billion cedis to micro-finance
Accra, Ghana, June, 05 2007 -
The Social Investment Fund (SIF) has since its inception some 10 years ago disbursed a total of 25 billion cedis to micro-finance institutions for on-lending to the poor, who are engaged in income generating activities. Out of a total of 14,962 beneficiaries of the loans, 10,632 are females.
SIF was set up in 1998 by the Government, African Development Bank and the United Nations Development Programme as a rapid, reliable and flexible mechanism for channelling resources to deliver targeted assistance to both urban and rural impoverished communities.
It is currently implementing the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy II with the aim of significantly reducing poverty in the targeted areas through facilitating access of the poor to basic economic and social infrastructure, financial services and strengthening community-based organisations in support of the overall goal of poverty reduction. Ms Ama Serwaa Dapaah, Executive Director SIF, said the project had supported the provision of 1,046 sub-projects mainly classroom blocks, teachers' quarters, rural clinics and potable drinking water to directly benefit 1.145 million poor people in 108 districts.
SIF has also provided six out of the 32 micro-finance institutions with motor-bikes to enhance monitoring. "SIF has done a lot to change the lives of the poor but much remains to be done. We cannot rest while many children are still attending classes under trees and this should not happen in this day and age," she said. "Our vision is that by the end of 2010 no child in Ghana will be attending school under a tree," she added. Despite these achievements, Ms. Dapaah said delays in getting funds from financiers, including government's matching funds had impacted negatively on attainment of planned targets.
Government has to date released about 1.3 million dollars of the total matching funds of four million dollars required for the period 1998 to 2009.
These delays have invariably led to some contractors threatening SIF management with litigation.
Professor George Gyan-Baffour, Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, said although there was a remarkable reduction in poverty levels much more needed to be done. The Ghana Living Standard Survey report recently released by the Ghana Statistical service shows that poverty has been reduced from 39.5 per cent in 1998 to 28.9 in 2005. He said even though the poverty rate was falling, the level was still undesirably high.
"Government believes that poverty reduction efforts should aim at assisting each household to produce enough to meet its needs."
Mr Gyan-Baffour said government was committed to the SIF's mission to contribute to reducing poverty. Mrs Effie Simpson Ekuban, Board Chairman of SIF, urged District Chief Executives to do more to help government achieve its aim of poverty reduction through the local communities. "We are the private sector, individuals and workers trying to make living for themselves, so we must be help with the necessary resources needed to reduce poverty in the country," she said.