The Buhari-led administration recently rolled out some social intervention programmes to boost micro, small and medium scale enterprises, which one of them is Government Empowerment Enterprises Programme, GEEP. In this interview one of the partners, Mrs Rose Gyar, said the programme is an avenue to lift women and artisans’ business to expansion, and is laudable and sustainable.
By Gabriel Ewepu
WHAT are the prospects of 2017 for women and young men in micro, small and medium business?
Judging from the signs we are seeing in respect with the steps government has taken there is a ray of hope especially with the launch of Government Empowerment Enterprises Programme, GEEP, towards the end of 2016, with as a platform to provide business funds to micro entrepreneurs, particularly the market women and artisans.
The scheme is part of the social investment by the Federal Government, which is contained in the N500 billion that it has earmarked for creating jobs, stimulate the economy and also provide school feeding programme for children at the primary school level. N140 million is earmarked for the GEEP out of the N500b.
What are the criteria put in place to access the loan?
The criteria to access the loan is simple and is an interest free loan, a revolving fund, and all the women need to do is to be a member of a registered and functional cooperative associations and business membership associations, which are the apex bodies that will supervise it is a criteria that is achievable and attainable by the targeted beneficiaries. But with GEEP all they need is to form themselves into groups whether registered or not registered provided they are formidable groups that are linked up to the apex organisation like the business membership organisation like Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises, NASEME, Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, NACCIMA.
What is the number of beneficiaries for the loan?
I believe the number of beneficiaries pencilled by the government is about 2.6 million including women and men in micro business of the informal sector particularly.
What impact will GEEP make in the present economic recession?
You can see efforts been made to ensure that the disbursement are done very quickly in order to cushion the effect in downturn of business. We believe that 2017 will be a year to revitalise the economic activities in the country, particularly those at the micro, small and medium enterprises level.
What are the prospects of GEEP?
The Bank of Industry, BoI, is the custodian of the fund who manages it as a development financial institution, which the fund is from the Federal Government.
With BoI working with facilitators like the Propoor Foundation and Global Centre for Human Empowerment and Entrepreneurship Development, GLOCHEED, partnering with them to ensure that this fund gets to the grassroots who are the targeted beneficiaries. I think with the structures they have put in place to have that fund is commendable and will be sustainable.
Poor access to finance
The prospects of GEEP is high because of the involvement of women in economic activities it is always at the micro and small scale levels because of the peculiarity of women naturally; poor access to finance, land as collateral, finance, education, information, technology and the like.
How is the loan processed and how many circles could it be accessed?
Under the GEEP the access to finance has tenure of six months, weekly repayment with two weeks moratorium after access with five per cent processing management fee that is one off payment and the amount is between N10, 000 to N100, 000. The expectation is that the opportunity will be properly utilised by women to ensure that as they collect they pay back for more women to come on board.
The collection is guaranteed for as many times you can collect and pay. Once the woman pays back she is entitled to collect again. The expectation is that women ensure they utilise the money to expand their business so that they will be able to pay back. The prepayment is weekly and they can be sure that if they don’t have anything productive it will be difficult for them to have the fund repay for the next woman to collect.
This is what women have been longing for and not that women are just realising themselves but government wants to inject more funds to encourage what women have been doing. The women have been involved in osusu and adashe. The government is out to expand and formalise it in order to do more. The corporate guarantors are the registered business cooperatives who manage the fund for their members and also we have cross-guarantee of membership.
There is a trust fund of 18.5 per cent of whatever amount a member is accessing so that it serves as collateral, whereby if a member defaults they can recoup the money. There is a structure and the association will be the one to accredit its members to access the fund and not based on individuals.
Woman’s bank account
There is no middle man issue because the money goes direct to the woman’s bank account with the Bank Verification Number (BVN), which one person can’t collect more monies into different accounts, and there is no way for fraudsters to come in.
Women should take advantage of the programme and better their livelihood, expand their business and increase their family income.
What is the level of awareness creation about GEEP in the country before now?
The awareness creation of GEEP is ongoing and that is round the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, which have started in some parts of the country and will continue.
Women in the 36 states and FCT are aware of GEEP, because of the the business associations involved in the programme and they have their offices in all the states in the country. The Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Aisha Alhassan, in November 2016, went round the 36 states to sensitise women about the programme and availability of the fund alongside the special fund created by the Ministry, which is the National Women Empowerment Fund, NAWEF, created by National Association of Women Entrepreneurs, NAWE.
The National Council of Women Association, NCWS, Women in the New Nigeria, WNN, Association of Women in Micros and Small Enterprises, AWMSE, National Association of Women Entrepreneurs, NAWE, African Women Entrepreneurship Programme, AWEP, were part of the Minister’s sensitisation team to the states.