The federal government has disbursed N15.183 billion interest-free loans to over 300,000 beneficiaries across the country under the Government Empowerment and Enterprise Programme (GEEP).
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo disclosed this at the 9th Presidential Quarterly Business Forum held at the State House banquet hall in Abuja.
He said: “For the small businesses also, we expanded the microcredit to small businesses under our Government Empowerment & Enterprise Programme (GEEP). N15.183 billion in interest-free loans ranging from N50,000 to N350,000 have been disbursed to over 300,000 market women, traders, artisans, farmers across all 36 States of the country and the FCT. By the way, 56 percent of our disbursements have gone to women.”
The vice president further stated that the Trader Moni Scheme was recently launched in order to extend the opportunity to people at the bottom of the trading pyramid which, according to him, constitute the largest segment of the economy. He also noted that the programme will engender financial inclusion.
“Under the Trader Moni Scheme, we decided that we are giving microcredit to 2 million petty traders across the country. We start by giving them N10,000 and when they pay back within six months, we give them N15,000 and then N20,000 until they graduate into the GEEP programme.
“By giving them credit to replenish and increase their inventories, we give them a stronger chance, to earn more, while they also service the value chain that they are a part of. But more importantly, we bring them into the formal sector, where they have access to government and private credit and we lift many permanently out of poverty.
“An important feature of the program is financial inclusion. So far, we have 349,000 new bank accounts/wallets for beneficiaries and intending beneficiaries. In the second phase, when they get the second line of credit, we insist that they must open bank accounts. We are working now with about 8 banks that are very committed to the Trader Moni Scheme.
“We have banks that are providing phones, at the moment; we have taken custody of over 300,000 mobile phones. For those traders who do not have phones, they will be given mobile phones provided by the banks free of charge. The banks are also looking forward to the opportunity of opening new bank accounts for the traders,” Osinbajo stated.