Peter Uzoho writes on how the GEEP MarketMoni scheme has helped many people to start up their own businesses
Nigeria is a country still struggling with unemployment where a large number of the populace still live beyond poverty level and majority of the population struggle to get the necessities of life needed for survival. Most of these needs can be tackled if a stable economy is achieved and this can be done through diverse means, especially by providing support for enterprises.
Today, there is a Social Investment Programme (SIP) targeting the lower rung of the ladder. GEEP MarketMoni, a Government Enterprise and Empowerment scheme was established to provide financial aid for Micro-enterprises, which includes traders and artisans. The spectrum of beneficiaries cut across the underbanked and unbanked. This scheme provides easy and quick loans at no interest rate at all. The recipients only pay a five per cent administrative fee. GEEP MarketMoni is being executed by the Bank of Industry and it currently caters for the most basic of businesses; the Micro-enterprises.
GEEP MarkeMoni is perhaps, the most ambitious Social Investment Programme in Nigerian history and the largest in Africa. It provides funding to the segments of society with the greatest difficulty accessing credit.To benefit from the scheme, applicants just need to apply through their registered Market Associations and Cooperatives, have a Bank Verification Number(BVN), and a mobile phone. The loans range from N10,000 to N100,000, tied to applicantsâ€™ BVNs, and are expected to be repaid within a six months period without interest.
According to the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, reported by Premium Times online news outlet on May 25, 2018, Nigeria currentlyhas over 37 million Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises, ranging from agricultural value chains, trade, commerce, artisans and cottage industries, among many others. Out of these, over 36 million are micro-enterprises.
According to the Bank of Industry, a Micro Enterprise is a business that employs less than 10 people, has a total asset of less than 5 million naira, and generates an annual turnover of less than 20 million naira. The Micro-enterprises form the bedrock of labour and enterprise in Nigeria. They are the real grassroots, and they form the bulk component of the MSMEs.
Speaking to journalists during a Social Investment event in Kano, the Special Assistant to the Vice-President on MSMEs, Tola Johnson, saidthat out of the 37million small businesses in Nigeria, 36.9 million are microenterprises.
â€œThis informed the federal governmentâ€™s attention to this space. Micro enterprises are responsible for almost 50 per cent of the countryâ€™s Gross Domestic Product and 80 per cent of the workforce,â€ he added.
These enterprises have sprouted up massively due to the rise in entrepreneurial activities and involvement of more people in self-employment. The investments of the government and other relevant bodies in human capital development have given rise to more people with good ideas and improved skills in the labor force.
With increase in the number of businesses comes the challenge of funding as most people who are interested in starting up these businesses do not have personal funds to invest in their ventures and some of them cannot access available loans for reasons ranging from high interest rates to lack of collaterals.
This necessitated the creation of funding channels aimed at promoting and developing enterprises in Nigeria. In 2013, the Central Bank of Nigeria launched the Micro Small and Medium Enterprise Development Fund, with share capital of 220 billion naira. They financed a lot of micro, small and medium sized business that fit the criteria for funding. The key goal was to provide grants whereby the beneficiaries do not have to pay back, or loans with very low and affordable interest rates, and some loans even come with no interest at all, to enable these businesses grow and thrive.
The Bank of Industry Youth Entrepreneurship Support (YES-Programme) is also a good source of funding for young people with feasible business ideas.Others include the Nigerian Touring Connect Program, SMEDAN Micro Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency of Nigeria, the Nigerian N-Power Programme, among others. The private sector is not left out in this as we have the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development Funding by First Bank Nigeria, Aspire Nigeria by Shell Petroleum Development Company, Diamond Bank old and Groin South Africa, among many other funds created to support Micro, Small and Medium Scale Business.
Perhaps, most of these schemes didnâ€™t penetrate the grassroots because they failed to target specifically, the smallest kinds of MSMEs; the Micro-enterprises.
Since 2016 when the GEEP MarketMoni scheme was rolled out, over 7 billion naira has been disbursed to more than 350, 000 beneficiaries that cut across the country and across over 1400 Bank of Industry (BOI)-accredited market associations, trade groups, and cooperatives.
In Kano, over 12,000Micro-enterprise owners have benefitted from the scheme and their businesses differ. For instance, Musa Shuaibu, a bag and shoe maker got N50, 000 to grow his business. Another beneficiary who makes handwoven leather and rug got N50, 000 last year and upon successfully paying it back, was given another N100, 000 this year when the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo visited the state on May 24, 2018 to supervise another round of disbursement.
In Anambra, 4, 377 businesses have benefitted from the GEEP MarketMoni scheme. In Ondo state, 3, 545 businesses have benefitted from the scheme, making it a nationwide attempt to reposition the economy and provide financial inclusion for those struggling to gain financial footing.
But beyond the provision for micro-enterprises is the fact that in facilitating financial inclusion for those on the outside, women in the country fall into a larger percentage of this. Which is why GEEP MarketMoni pays special attention to women applying for loans under the scheme.
Since the scheme started, 60 per cent of beneficiaries have been women. One of such beneficiaries, Funke Sadiku from Akure remarked that: â€œMaking money is easy when you have helping hands.â€ In Ondo state, 55 per cent of the beneficiaries are women-owned businesses. This helps to fulfil the aim of providing financial inclusion for those on the outside using micro-enterprise funding as the driver.
The beautiful thing about these financial aid schemes is that each one caters to a wide range of entrepreneurial options and so, it is not limiting in the least bit. All an applicant needs, is to look for the one tailored to suit their unique financial need and make sure they have the requirements, which are mostly realistic. Some of them, especially those with grant provisions offer professional trainings for the beneficiaries to curb misuse of funds and equip them with necessary skills for proper business set up.
Growth in the micro-enterprise sector will see a significant growth in the nation’s economy, so it is not only targeted at personal financial growth, but the overall improvement of the country’s economy.
The creation of these funding schemes has encouraged more people to start up their own business and this has gone a long way in curbing the menace of unemployment, which has been a major problem, especially among the youths. The reduction of unemployment rate affects every other aspect of the lives of the people as the number of people who can afford the basic necessities of life increases, thereby improving the quality of life for the people. The nation’s GDP also increases as its economy becomes more viable.
More people, especially youths, should be encouraged to start up their own businesses, taking advantage of the available funding schemes for possible growth into Macro Enterprises in the nearest future.