The Bank of Induatry(BoI) has put the number of beneficiaries of the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme((GEEP) in Kogi State at 5, 600.
This is even as the nation’s foremost Development Finance Institution(DFI), announced that it had disbursed over N295million in the process of executing the programme in the state.
The GEEP MarketMoni Alert, which is a component of the federal government’s social intervention programmes, is aimed at helping micro enterprise operators in the country bridge the gaps in access to affordable credit.
The GEEP, which is being administered by the BoI, seeks to provide
non-interest loans raging from N10,000 to N100,000 to 1.6million beneficiaries in the 774 Local Government of the federation.
Speaking during a formal launch of the programme in Lokoja, the capital city of Kogi StateTuesday evening, the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, stated that the programme was conceived to take care of the interest of the people at the base of socio-economic pyramid across the country.
He said some of the beneficiaries who are majorly traders, artisans, farmers and market women who plied their trade in these target areas, were eligible to access loan under the programme to grow their businesses.
In particular, the Senior Advocate urged the over 5,000 beneficiaries in Kogi state not to consider the loan as a national cake, but that which requires repayment so that other people can benefit.
The VP restated the commitment of the administration of President Mohammadu Buhari to growing the economy of the country through industrialization and development of the nation’s human capital base.
Also speaking on the sidelines of the event, the GEEP MarketMoni Chief Operating Officer, Mr. Uzoma Nwagba, said the programme was packaged to address the issue of lack of access to finance by those operating with the Small and Medium Enterprises(SMEs) sub-sector.
He added that, “the Micro Small and Medium Enterprises(MSMEs) space, especially the micro part of it accounts for close to 23milllion Nigerians. These are people who have no access to credit from the commercial banks.
“We have a lot of market women, artisans youths, even farmers who can’t access credit to build their businesses. We therefore need a more innovative way to provide credit to these groups of people.
“The federal government has the mandate to meet the needs of the people at the base of the pyramid and that is why the present administration has come up with its social intervention programmes of which GEEP marketmoni is an integral part.
On the involvement of the Bank of Industry in the scheme, Uzoma who represented the bank’s Executive Director, Micro Enterprise Directorate, Toyin Adeniji, said the federal government leveraged on its expertise and long years of working in the target sector of the economy.
He noted that since the programme commenced, the bank had been working diligently and professionally to deliver on this mandate across the states of the federation.
According to him, to be eligible to draw from the loan scheme, interested person must belong to a registered association or a cooperative, has a valid BVN, an existing business, and must be nominated by the leader of the association.
Asked if the people needed to go through any God-father to benefit from the loan, he noted that it was completely insulated against any interference.
“You do not need to know anybody to apply for a GEEP marketmoni. You don’t need to have any connection with senators or any other senior government functionary. It is completely insulated against any form of interference.
The Executive Governor of the state, Mr. Yaya Bello commended the federal government for the social intervention programme in the state, urging the beneficiaries to genuinely use the loan to grow their businesses so that it can revolve around thousands of other people in the state.
One of the beneficiaries, the Chairperson of Kogi State Sheabutter Multipurpose Cooperative Unions, Mrs Joyce Atawodi, said that before the intervention their sheabutters were being packaged in plastic.
She, however, noted that access to credit through the Marketmoni programme, had enabled those involved in the trade in the state add value to their products.