By Yinka Kolawole
THE federal government has so far disbursed more than N15 billion to over 1.5 million petty traders under its TraderMoni loan initiative nationwide.
TraderMoni is a N10,000 collateral-free loan initiative for petty traders under the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programmes (GEEP), one of the Social Investment Programmes (SIPs) of the Buhari administration.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo launched the scheme at Ipata Market in Ilorin, Kwara State capital, last weekend.
He noted that the interest-free loans are aimed empowering ordinary Nigerians and helping to tackle poverty, while enabling those at the bottom of the economic ladder who work the hardest do better.
Osinbajo stated: “TraderMoni is a very important aspect of our economic policy. We believe that one of the ways to counter poverty and to enable those who work the hardest, and these are the petty traders, to empower them to enable them to be able to do better, we have to give them credit.”
Responding to questions on SOBI 101.9 FM Radio station in Ilorin, after launching the scheme,
he further said: “Nobody else will give microcredit to the petty traders because nobody is sure whether they will be able to pay or not. Only the government can do such. That is why we have decided that we must give micro credit to the petty traders.”
Noting that the petty traders are at the lowest in the rung of the economic ladder, Osinbajo said, “it is important for us to do so and for now we are giving microcredits to 2 million petty traders. We intend to increase that as we go along. Now we give them N10,000, when they pay back, we give them N15,000 and when they pay back also, we give them another N20,000.”
The Vice President noted that the TraderMoni beneficiaries can graduate to the MarketMoni scheme where they can access loans from N50,000 to N350,000 or more. On sustainability he explained: “I believe that there is enough money to be able to take care of the scheme, and the needs of the people. We don’t steal public resources, so, yes, there will be enough money for the scheme.”
He dismissed claim in some quarters that TraderMoni is political, especially regarding the period of its implementation, noting that “there is no wrong time to do the right thing.”
According to him, the microcredit scheme was duly approved by the National Assembly.
“First of all, this a programme which was duly approved by the National Assembly. We started this programme (GEEP) since 2016 and it has two other schemes – Market Moni and Trader Moni.
“We’ve implemented it across the 36 states of the federation. I think there is never a wrong time to do the right thing. We started this programme almost 18 months ago. We had to wait until NASS approved money before we went on with the programme.”