Financial services and smallholder farmer livelihoods: a case study of Equity Bank Limited Thika Branch
Aruwa, Patricia A
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Financial. services and smallholders livelihoods are critical aspects of poverty reduction agenda atthe individual, regional or national level. The objective of this study was to find out the effect of financial services on livelihoods of smallholders. There are many financial institutions providing services within rural set up but access to credit for smallholders still continues to be a major concern. The study sought to assess the unique features of Equity Bank's structure, products and services, whether they have any contribution to make in the livelihoods of smallholders. Using the trusteeship framework, the study was to establish the extent to which the Bank as a financial services provider was contributing to improved livelihoods. This was to be verified by getting from the client his or her perceptions of the contribution made by the bank. The study was carried out in Thika District of Central Province. A two-prong design was employed in data collection to gather data from the institution as well as from the client. The findings show that the unique approaches, products and structures of Equity Bank have made it accessible to farmer clients, who are able to access credit to support productive activities as well as reduce vulnerability. Smallholders found it easy to approach the Bank for services compared to other similar service providers. Acknowledging that smallholders have the capacity to utilise credit and repay loans, this study recommends that modalities to encourage service providers to deliberately engage with agro-based smallholders as a poverty reduction strategy. As evidenced in the study, innovative ways of service delivery are needed for this. to succeed.