The Centre has sent some staff members to reputable training institutions such as Carsey Institute SMDP, Boulders Institute of Microfinance, School of African Microfinance (SAM), among others. In fact a two year training, workshop and conference programme is being developed that will involved all the staff attending at least one programme. We have also sent people to attend important conference such as the 2013 African Microfinance Conference in Durban as well as the 7th CBN Annual Microfinance and MSME Conference held in Abuja all in August 2013.
These training and conferences have in no small measure increased our knowledge and understanding of various topical issues in rural and microfinance as well as entrepreneurship. The Centre has also instituted a knowledge sharing mechanism whereby various staff attending these trainings shall conduct step down trainings for other staff so as to ensure knowledge dissemination and value for money. The knowledge and documents obtained from the trainings have also greatly assisted us in our curriculum development.
In collaboration with the Carsey Institute a technical team from the Centre was able to develop a total of four (4) post graduate and three (3) Diploma academic programmes. These programmes include Msc In Rural Finance and Entrepreneurship as well as a specialised and blended learning Masters programme in Agricultural finance and rural entrepreneurship for BOA/RUFIN and other rural finance related NGOs, Donors and government ministries programmes and agencies. The Centre now has different modules, reading materials, questions and answers etc for each of these programmes. The Centre intends to kick off the first programme by next academic session 2014/2015. It also plans to over the next 5 years gradually mount all these courses which with exception of the Msc Rural Finance and Entrepreneurship shall be blended/Online. The Rural finance course however shall be run a full time 2 year programme. The developed programmes have been circulated for our stakeholders’ input and buy-in.
A N6.5 million consultancy from the University to restructure and reposition ABU Microfinance Bank Limited. We have been approached by National Research Institute for Chemical Technology (NARICT) Zaria for collaboration towards commercialisation of the various products they have developed for MSMEs. We have formed a 6 man committee to handle this project. We intend to involve ANU Microfinance bank to provide financing for the enterprises that will ultimately take up the NARICT products for commercialisation.
The Centre in conjunction with Kano State Government carried out series of workshops on Credit, Product Development and Strategic Plan for the Management of the 44 Microfinance Banks in the State.
We started collaboration discussion with Carsey Instute in 2010 but it became stalled. We have not only reactivated but finalised discussions on the partnership with an MoU signed. There have been also exchange visits between the Centre team and Carsey’s. Sequel to the ABU team’s visit to USA Carsey Institute offered Our Centre a scholarship for one staff of the Centre to study Masters of Arts in Developmental Policy and Practice (MADPP) in United States.
We have been able to develop new programmes/activities focus and stakeholders engagement plan that have been readily and excitedly accepted by major rural finance stakeholders such as Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), RUFIN, BOA, NAMBF etc. The Centre is gradually becoming a rallying point for rural finance capacity building and research as evidenced by the BOA and CBN partnership and NAMB repositioning project under discussion. Consequently there are promises for financial and technical support from the stakeholders. For instance, RUFIN/CBN have agreed to not only support us but also to fully participate in the ABU Microfinance Bank (ABUMFB) Restructuring and Repositioning Project. They have also requested the Centre to consider scaling up the same exercise to at least 35 other troubled microfinance banks across the country. We have agreed that the ABUMFB project will be a pilot and model for other distressed banks in the country. We have also coopted the National Association of Nigerian Microfinance Banks and MAIN in this exercise.
Motivational talk & Exhibition on green entrepreneurship
The Centre held a motivational talk and exhibition on green entrepreneurship on for students of the Institute of Administration in which Alh. A. A Rano and Alh Bala Mai kusa (Alba Bello) were invited to talk to the Students on how to become self-reliant. There were also lots of exhibition on Green entrepreneurship by participants on the area from Kaduna and Kano.
The Centre also conducted an interactive seminar on Modernizing Business for some selected business entrepreneurs in Kano and Kaduna States.