The Bank of Industry has commenced the disbursement of loans to about 1,000 women entrepreneurs in Plateau State, with a warning to them not to divert the funds to other things not contained in the loans’ terms of agreement.
The loans, which ranged between N10,000 and N50,000 per beneficiary, were disbursed by the Managing Director of the bank, Mr. Olukayode Pitan, under the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme.
Tagged ‘MarketMoni Alert’, the initiative is one of the Federal Government’s social intervention programmes aimed at helping micro enterprise operators in the country to bridge the gaps in access to affordable credit identified as a major constraint to business growth.
The GEEP, which is being administered by the BoI, seeks to provide non-interest loans raging from N10,000 to N100,000 to 1.6 million beneficiaries in the 774 local governments of the federation.
Pitan, who was represented by the Executive Director, Micro Enterprise, Mrs. Toyin Adeniji, underscored the significance of the scheme, saying that it would help to expand loan windows available to small enterprises in the country.
He said, “Current statistics show that over 80 per cent of micro enterprises lack 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 cost to the borrower.
“It is with a view to bridging the gaps that the Federal Government set up a social intervention programme to provide access to affordable micro credit to existing micro businesses in Nigeria.”
He said the scheme, conceived for four target segments of market women and traders, artisans, youths and farmers, had loan tenor of six months with two weeks grace and a weekly repayment package.
Pitan said the bank would partner the Plateau State Microfinance, Small and Medium Enterprise Agency to expand the reach of the loan facility to cover more beneficiaries.
In his address, the Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, commended the Federal Government for the initiative.
While urging the beneficiaries to invest the loan facility appropriately with a view to providing employment for the jobless people in the state, the governor affirmed the determination of his administration to bring economic empowerment opportunities to the people.
“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,” he added.
Also speaking, the Special Adviser to the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Mr. Tola Johnson, said the scheme was conceived to help Nigerian women and traders overcome poverty.