The role of microfinance services in promoting financial inclusion amongst the rural poor: a survey of Microfinance Support Center Services in Mpigi District
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The study set out to examine the role of microfinance services in promoting financial inclusion amongst the rural poor, a survey of the Microfinance Support Center in Mpigi District under three objectives namely; i) to find out how loan services by MSC promote financial inclusion in Mpigi District, ii) to assess the role of training services by MSC on financial inclusion in Mpigi District and iii) to examine the effect of advisory services by MSC on financial inclusion in Mpigi District. The study was guided by a descriptive survey design on a sample of 380 participants including 374 adult residents of Mpigi district as well as 6 representatives of the microfinance institutions in the district. Data were collected using both interviews and interviews and processed using the Statistical Package for Social Scientists (SPSS) on one hand and transcribing on the other hand. Quantitative analysis was enabled by inferential statistics (correlations and regression) techniques while qualitative data was analyzed through content analysis. Results indicate that microfinance services through loans, training as well as advisory services are positively associated with financial inclusion amongst the rural poor with correlation indices of r = 0.361; p<0.01, r = 0.168; p<0.01 as well as r = 0.104; p<0.01 respectively. Relatedly, regression analysis results indicate that loan services, training services as well as advisory services positively affect financial inclusion amongst the people with net contributions of 47.8%, 3.2% and 9.7% respectively. On the overall, microfinance services explain 9.14% of the positive variation in financial inclusion amongst the rural poor. Further still, the conditional effects of the independent variable (Microfinance Services) at values of the moderator (Political Environment) are insignificant (P-value ≥0.05) at levels -.2126, 0.0000, and 0.2126 (SD, Mean, +SD). Based on the findings, the researcher concludes that microfinance services are weak though positive and significant predictors of financial inclusion amongst the rural poor of the firms under investigation. Accordingly, the researcher concludes that loan services, training services as well as advisory services positively affect financial inclusion amongst the rural poor. However, it is concluded that whereas all tenets of microfinance services positively affect financial inclusion, loan services are strong, positive and significantly predict financial inclusion amongst the rural poor while training service alongside advisory are insignificant in predicting financial inclusion amongst the rural poor. However, the political environment insignificantly moderates the interrelationships between microfinance services and financial inclusion among the rural poor. The researcher recommends that Since credit services, training services and savings services as dimensions of microfinance services adopted in the study are positively associated with and equally positively predict financial inclusion amongst the rural poor, the researcher recommends adopting each of them by the respective microfinance institutions and ensuring that gaps in each are addressed to propel sustainable financial inclusion amongst the rural societies in Uganda. Similarly, the researcher recommends that with regard to loan services, the MFIs should make the process of getting a business loan from microfinance swift involving shorter procedures and also strive ensure that generally loans applied for from MFIs are always granted as to enable individuals or businesses meet their financing needs and hence register satisfactory financial inclusion.