By Senator Iroegbu in Abuja
The Bank of Industry (BoI) has disbursed loan facilityÂ Â ranging from N10,000 to N50,000 to over 1,000 women entrepreneurs in Plateau State under the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP).
The Managing Director of BoI, Mr. Olukayode Pitan, said the programme tagged: â€˜MarketMoni Alert,â€™ Â is one of the federal governmentâ€™s initiatives aimed at helping micro enterprise operators in the country bridge the gaps in access to affordable credit identified as a major constraint to business growth.
Speaking at the Plateau State edition of MarketMoni Alert initiative at the weekend,Â Pitan, who was represented by the Executive Director of Micro Enterprise, Mrs. Toyin Adeniji,Â said the over 1,000 beneficiaries would receive alert through their individual telephones.
He said GEEP seeks to provideÂ non-interest loans raging from N10,000 to N100,000 to 1.6million beneficiaries in the 774 local government areas of the federation.
He underscored the significance of the scheme, saying it would help to expand loan windows available to small enterprises in the country.
He said: â€œCurrent statistics show that over 80 per cent of micro enterprises cite lack of access to affordable credit as a major barrier to business growth. We also know that even when these loans are available they come at a very high costs to the borrower.Â
â€œIt is with a view to bridging the gaps, that the Federal Government of Nigeria set up a social intervention programme to provide access to affordable micro credit to existing micro businesses in Nigeria.â€
Pitan said the scheme, which is conceived forÂ four target segments such as market women and traders, artisans, youths and farmers, has loan tenor of 6months with two weeks grace and a weekly repayment package.
According to him, to be eligible to draw from the loan scheme, interested person must belong to registered association or cooperative, has a valid BVN, an existing business and must be nominated by the leader of the association.
The BoI boss said the bank would partner Plateau State Micro-Finance, Small and Medium Enterprise Agency to expand the reach of the loan to cover more beneficiaries.
Speaking, the Governor of Plateau State, Hon. Simon Lalong, commendedÂ Â the federal government for the initiative and saluted the openness and transparency of the BoI in administering the fund
Lalong while urging the beneficiaries to invest the loan facility appropriately with a view to providing employment for the other jobless people in the state, affirmed the determination of his government to bring economic empowerment opportunities to the people.
â€œOur Rescue Government in the state is committed to bringing economic empowerment opportunities to all our citizens. We have remained focused on our approach to wealth creation particularly for women and the youth, throughout three dimensional approach of employment, empowerment rand engagement,â€ heÂ Â added.
Also speaking, the Special Adviser to the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), Mr. Tola Johnson, said the scheme was conceived to help Nigeria women and traders.
He warnedÂ Â the over 1,000 beneficiaries against diverting the money, stressing that doing so would not only deter others from accessing the funds, but would also defeat the purpose for which it was set up.
Mrs, Elizabeth Akson, oneÂ Â of the beneficiaries who spoke with journalists on the sidelines of the programme, thanked the federal government for the initiative.
She said the funds, when invested in their existing businesses, would help them improve on their livelihoods as the keepers of the house.