Edo State yesterday recorded over 4,000 beneficiaries of the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) of the federal government through the state’s edition of Micro, Small and Medium-Scale Enterprise (MSMEs) Clinic.

GEEP is one of the National Social Intervention Programmes (NSIP) of the current administration, providing interest-free loans of between N10, 000 and N100, 000 to market women, farmers, artisans and enterprising youths nationwide through the Bank of Industry (BoI).

Speaking at the event, the Vice-President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo said “the policy of the federal government was to support businesses, not just big business but particularly small, medium-sized businesses and micro businesses.

“The whole idea is that we want to ensure that we give whatever support whether it is cash, advice or even registration to all of our small and medium enterprises,” he said.

Apart from the existing GEEP MarketMoni scheme, which targets market women, traders, artisans and enterprising youths, Osinbajo also revealed that the federal government is rolling out TraderMoni, a new micro-credit scheme to cater for ultra-micro enterprises.

“It is a different thing from MarketMoni because TraderMoni is for the smaller traders. These are the hawkers; those who are doing little things where in many cases their inventory, the whole thing they are selling is sometimes not even more than N5,000 to N10,000. We want to give those kinds of people some credit as well and once they pay back, we will give them some more money,” Osinbajo said.

Speaking under the existing GEEP MarketMoni scheme, Toyin Adeniji, the Executive Director of Financial Inclusion in BoI, revealed that, the federal government through BoI had done over 4,000 loans in Edo State and 350,000 nationwide.

She also added that the pilot phase of the TraderMoni scheme began with 368 traders in Edo State walking home with N10, 000 after the event.

While speaking at a separate interview during the event, Adeniji said BoI was making every possible effort to enhance the scope of the programme and bring in more beneficiaries.

“Beneficiaries of the GEEP loan have been able to improve their businesses. Some of them from a one-man shop now employ six people; those who buy things in small units now buy in bulk. It is a very aggressive scheme and we have a target to reach over a million. As at now we have disbursed loans to over 350,000 beneficiaries nationwide, and to scale up the scheme, we have identified and categorised a new group of micro traders who need only about N10,000 to boost their businesses.”

Uzoma Nwagba, GEEP MarketMoni Chief Operating Officer, also explained that “GEEP was to address one of the tough challenges of micro enterprises in Nigeria, which was access to finance. We felt that as government backed by the execution capacity of BoI, we could target this group of people and inflate the economy from the base.”

Beneficiaries at the event were full of praise for the federal government, saying the scheme had decently improved their means of livelihood.

“We appreciate the federal government for this loan. We are very happy because we no longer have to borrow and pay heavy interest; this one is better. In our association alone, we got N50, 000 each and we have used it to trade,” the Head of Udoritin Bushmeat Sellers Association Edo State, Eki Eguavoen said.

According to BoI, GEEP MarketMoni loans were repayable over a period of six months with a five per cent administrative charge.

To ensure that the loan instalments were paid on time and conveniently, collections begin from the third week after loans were received. Beneficiaries enjoy a two-week grace period.

To access the loans, applicants must have a bank account, a valid Bank Verification Number, a verifiable business address and must belong to a cooperative, market or trade association that is registered at either state or federal.

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