By Yinka Kolawole
THE Federal Government has set aside N1.6 billion for women empowerment programme called the National Women Empowerment Fund, NAWEF, under its Social Investment Intervention Programme known as the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP).
Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajia Aisha Alhassan, disclosed this on Tuesday, at a town hall meeting with women groups in Dutse, Jigawa State. She said the programme was being implemented by the ministry in collaboration with the Bank of Industry (BoI).
“GEEP is a micro-credit programme for men and women, boys and girls; and out of the GEEP Fund, the sum of N1.6 billion has been set aside exclusively for women. Both NAWEF and GEEP are financial inclusion and microcredit programmes,” she said in a statement.
Alhassan said the aims of NAWEF and GEEP were to provide micro-credit facilities for men and women; reduce poverty among rural dwellers and provide skills development, training and business support, especially for women and assist in rebuilding the economies of rural areas through financial inclusion.
The minister noted that the programmes were meant to build strong partnership between the federal and state ministries of women affairs, BoI and development partners. She added that the partners for the programme are World Bank, African Development Bank, UN Women and UNIDO, among others, to provide a solid platform for implementing the programmes.
According to her, there are 13 important features that every beneficiary needed to know about the scheme. “NAWEF is exclusively for women, who engage in production enterprises while GEEP is for both men and women; artisans, farmers, market women or entrepreneurs, who engage in productive enterprise,” she stated.According to her, each beneficiary can get between N10,000 and N100,000 as loan, which is payable within six months, with one-month grace after disbursement, before repayment starts. However, she noted that each beneficiary should belong to a registered association; cooperative society or any other trade organisation, which had a minimum of 10 members and a maximum of 20 members.
“Application can be made in groups of 20 members from their different branches at State or Local Government levels,” she explained, adding that the loans will be paid directly into beneficiaries’ personal accounts, not the group account. She added that each applicant must have his or her personal account, which must have BVN that could be used for verification.