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NGO-microfinance institution denies being a wonder bank


Grooming People for Better Livelihood Centre (Grooming Centre) has dismissed as false and defamatory, statements published on February 22, 2018, under the headline “EFCC arrests 27 ‘wonder bank’ operators in Oyo” regarding its business practices. The report refers to comments made by Femi Oyewole, Head of Media, Ibadan Zonal Office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) which denote Grooming Centre as an ‘illegal financial institution’ and a ‘wonder bank,’ engaging in ‘illegal activities.”

But in a statement, its management said: “To set the record straight, Grooming Centre is a membership-based non-governmental organization (NGO) founded in 2006, and fully registered by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC certificate CAC/IT/NO 24198), to address the perennial challenge of low access to financial services by its members, economically active poor people engaged in small trading and productive activities in many parts of Nigeria. The mission of the Centre is consistent with the aims and ongoing efforts of the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Federal Government in promoting financial inclusion and client friendly services at the bottom of the pyramid. The Centre is a national institution presently operating in twenty-three states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), and providing services to some 650,000 poor women who are its members.

“The activities of Grooming Centre are fully recognised under the following policies issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria:
1. Microfinance Policy, Regulatory and Supervisory Framework for Nigeria, December 2005 (section 9.3);
2. Revised Microfinance Policy Framework for Nigeria, April 2011 (sections 4.3.5, 5.2, 5.3);
3. Revised Regulatory and Supervisory Guidelines for Microfinance Banks in Nigeria, 2012 (section 17.2).

“Grooming Centre is also a member of the apex Association of Non-Bank Microfinance Institutions of Nigeria (ANMFIN) and has always complied with all applicable laws, rules and regulations. As a global Tier 1 Microfinance Institution, Grooming Centre has been a standard bearer in implementing best practices in triple bottom line financial intermediation and inclusion in Nigeria and Africa over the eleven years of its existence.”

The statement went on: “This has endeared the Centre to the major national and global players as well as funding vehicles in the microfinance sector and led to partnerships with these multilateral institutions and bodies as well as several ratings and recognitions including:
• First Microfinance Institution in Africa to receive the highly-prized Client Protection Principles [CPP] certification from the Washington D.C. based SMART Campaign (2016);
• Key Partner with the World Bank Group in implementing the Universal Financial Access (UFA) Framework aimed at providing credit to 2 billion households by the year 2020;
• Board Member and Vice President, African Microfinance Transparency (2013-2017);
• Top 5 finalists, European Microfinance Platform Award (2012);
• Nominee, Africa Banker’s Award 2011 (Microfinance) (IMF/World Bank Meeting, Washington DC);
• Rated three times (2009, 2011 & 2015) by MicroRate USA and in 2013 by Planet Rating France;
• Presently an α- rated for Institutional (Financial and Operational) Performance and 4 out of 5 stars for Social Performance (MicroRate, 2015).

It added: “Therefore, we categorically reject the defamatory article. The publishers never spoke to anyone at Grooming Centre, which is unprofessional and hasty, and would have shown that a number of the statements in their article were false. Furthermore, till date, the Ibadan Zonal Office of the EFCC has not made us aware of any allegations and as to why they unjustly detained our staff members and caused this unwarranted embarrassment. “Grooming Centre remains committed to promoting client friendly and best practice methodology in the delivery of financial services to the poor and flying the Nigerian flag high in the community of global best practice microfinance institutions.”

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