The recently introduced loan scheme, christened “Okowo Dapo”, by the present administration in Ogun State for petty traders can be described as a timely intervention.

The interest-free loan scheme which is the brainchild of the Prince Dapo Abiodun-led government is specially designed for female traders with the aim of promoting small businesses across the length and breadth of the Gateway State.

It is interesting to note that no fewer than 2,000 women benefitted from the scheme on the day it was formally launched while many other applicants are hoping to receive theirs in due course.

An initiative of this nature would alleviate the pains traders go through in accessing bank loans and quite a number of other loans that are inimical to womanhood. Many of these strange loan schemes had in recent past sent women to untimely graves.

The petty traders are among the forgotten class of the society but their roles in the economic life of a state and nation cannot be overemphasized.

Pathetically, they have over the years been given little or no attention which had gravely affected the economy of the nation at large. Funny enough, developed nations that recognise the power of MSMEs have effectively harnessed it to achieve great things.

Across the globe, women and children are the most vulnerable to attacks and economic hardship. Yet many of these petty traders are the bread winners in their various homes. In this part of the world, we have women who are into full time farming, trade and many other jobs in order to keep the family going. In spite of the challenges occasioned by lean purse and meagre opportunities, many women remain dogged in their pursuit of academic excellence for their children. This makes the business which is the mainstay of the family to suffer. Hence, a proactive plan such as Oko’wo Dapo is a right step in the right direction.

The Oko’wo Dapo initiative which is devoid of political undertone and bureaucratic bottlenecks will go a long way in enhancing micro, small and medium scale enterprises. It will thus make petty traders to be self-reliant without having to continue to depend on family and friends for daily needs. It will also afford them the opportunity to create wealth on their own.

Femi Onasanya, Ogun State Ministry of Information, Oke-Mosan