By Yinka Kolawole
BANK of Industry, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), are collaborating to boost entrepreneurship, deepen financial inclusion and fast-track poverty eradication in the country.
Mrs Toyin Adeniji, Executive Director, Micro Enterprises, BoI, disclosed this during a visit with the directors of the groups to the Lagos State Plank and Building Materials Market Association. She said the partnership was to support the Federal Government’s social intervention programme, ‘Market Moni, under the Government Enterprises and Empowerment Program (GEEP) initiative.
GEEP is a social intervention programme designed to stimulate bottom of the pyramid with credit. It targets market men and women, traders, artisans, enterprising youths and farmers by providing interest-free loans ranging from N10,000 to N100,000, but with the payment of a one-time administrative fee of 5 percent.
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation works with partner organizations worldwide to tackle critical problems aimed at helping the world’s poorest people lift themselves out of hunger and poverty.
CGAP is a global partnership of more than 30 leading organizations that seeks to advance financial inclusion and develops innovative solutions through practical research and active engagement with financial service providers, policy makers, and funders to scale up approaches.
Adeniji stated: “We are working in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and CGAP to ensure that we scale up GEEP to the target that the government wants to reach. Our target is to reach over a million beneficiaries, we are in partnership with them to support us so that we can scale up the programme and reach these targets.
Plank sellers association
They are with us at the plank market to see our operations and have an interaction with some of our beneficiaries. The plank sellers association is one of our beneficiaries, we have disbursed about 1000 loans to them and we still have about 3000 queued up on our system.”
Mr Uzoma Nwagba, Chief Operating Officer, Government Enterprises and Empowerment Program (GEEP), said the programme was strengthening its collaboration with foreign and domestic partners to deepen financial inclusion initiatives in the country. He noted that GEEP was a direct response of government to the challenge of access to funds, financial inclusion and demonstration of its resolve to fast track growth and development of microenterprises.
Program Officer, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Dr Abi Jagun, said the foundation was interested in supporting the government in its agenda on financial inclusion. “We are interested in ensuring that poor people, people on low income have affordable, convenient and secured access to financial services. We have heard about GEEP and what the Bank of Industry is doing. The visit helped us not to just hear from Bank of Industry, the aggregators but also people who are receiving the loan. It is a learning opportunity for us to understand what the government is trying to do because we would like to support the government to improve the lives of the poor and low income earners,” Jagun remarked.