By Yinka Kolawole
THE Federal Government has set aside N112.2 billion, under the 2017 budget proposals currently before the National Assembly, for the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP).
GEEP is designed to provide interest-free loans to market men and women, traders, artisans, youths and farmers.
According to the Senior Special Assistant on Media & Publicity to the President, Office of the Vice President, Mr. Laolu Akande, beneficiaries of GEEP will receive between N10,000 and N100,000 loans with a one-time 5 percent administrative fee. According to him, over 20,000 Nigerians in about 14 states are already benefiting from the programme, under the 2016 budget.
GEEP programme is one of the five Federal Government’s Social Investment Programmes (SIPs) targeted at providing microfinance as loans to young men and women from all states of the federation at liberal conditions with no collateral.
Flag-off advocacy and sensitisation
At a ceremony to flag-off advocacy and sensitization for the programme in Birnin-Kebbi, Kebbi State, Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Aisha Jumai Alhassan, said: “The federal government recognises the difficulties in securing business loans from commercial banks, therefore, measures for monitoring and evaluation of disbursements, usage and recovery have been put in place so that beneficiaries can repay the loan in six months and others can benefit from the revolving scheme. ‘‘The repayment schedules are easier and less stringent than those of conventional banking loans, so we are sure that the country will witness increased economic activities with the desired multiple effects and subsequent boost in the economy.
‘‘Out of the GEEP fund, the sum of N1.6 billion has been set- aside exclusively for women only. The women special fund is known as the National Women Empowerment fund popularly called NAWEF. Both the GEEP and NAWEF are financial inclusion and microcredit programmes. Under both programmes, each beneficiary will receive between N10,000 and N100,000, depending on the type of business or trade with no interest, no collateral and repayable in six months with one month grace after disbursement, before repayment commences.”
The Bank of Industry (BoI) is responsible for identifying and disbursing soft loans to beneficiaries of the programme nationwide. The bank has already started collecting the data of market associations, women cooperatives, artisan groups, trade associations and trade cooperatives nationwide for the programme.