By Nkiruka Nnorom
THE Bank of Industry, BoI, and Diamond Bank Plc have entered into partnership to help micro entrepreneurs in the country to easily access the N140 billion Government Enterprise and Empowernment Programme, GEEP, Funds.
Under the partnership, Diamond Bank will provide the platform and customer base to disburse the fund which is open to beneficiaries nationwide, comprising market women, youths, artisans and farmers. The loan size ranges from N10,000 to N100,000 on five per cent interest rate and six month moratorium,
Speaking at a press conference to flag off the partnership in Lagos, Toyin Adeniyi, Executive Director, Micro-Enterprises, BoI, said the GEEP is part of a larger social intervention programme of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. According to her, the GEEP Fund was part of the budgetary allocation in 2016 from N500 billion set aside by the administration for social investment programmes.
She noted that BoI is partnering with Diamond Bank in the programme because the bank has a ready market, covering four hundred thousand micro entrepreneurs in the bottom of the pyramid.
“By the time we started talking to Diamond Bank, they had even done 400,000 in terms of their capture of customers at the bottom of the pyramid. So we are doing this to see how we can do more and increase the number of beneficiaries that do enjoy this government programme that we are talking about. We believe that the beneficiaries will be able to use this efficiently, and also to use that to increase the GDP level because micro, small and medium enterprises are really the source of GDP growth for any country,” Adeniyi said.
“The loan is affordable at no interest. So, basically, the extra money you see is the administration fee of five per cent. That means if you take a loan of N20,000, at the end of six months, you will be paying N21, 000 at a weekly repayment,” she added.
In his address, Mr. Uzoma Dozie, CEO, Diamond Bank Plc, said that the first five thousand recipients would be women in commemoration of the 2017 International Women’s Week. He noted that the partnership would help to deploy the money to the real people that need them, adding that it would assist both institutions to improve financial standing of the beneficiaries in the society, while driving the federal government’s financial inclusion strategy.
He said: “We are excited about this partnership because at Diamond Bank, we have been able to launch programmes like BETA solution, which provides banking access especially to market women and people lower down the pyramid and it has been successful because over half a million women have saved more than N500 million in that space.
“For any bank, lending money is not easy, but lending safely is very key as in making sure that it gets to the right people and we believe that using this infrastructure that we are deploying, which is M-cash, to deploy and to also receive payment will be very easier.”
We are very excited about it and we believe that it will be successful because we are bringing two institutions that believe that sustainability of Nigeria is important,” Dozie stated.