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2.3 million SMEs accessed interest-free loans, says FG

A  total of 2.3 million Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises have accessed interest-free loans under the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme, the Federal Government of Nigeria announced on Friday.

GEEP is a government initiative under the National Social Investment Programme. Other NSIPs include the N-Power Programme, National Home Grown School Feeding Programme and Conditional Cash Transfer Programme.

The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar-Farouq, said GEEP was aimed at addressing the challenges of credit and financial inclusion for over 37 million Nigerians at the base of the economic pyramid.

Speaking at the one-year anniversary of her ministry in Abuja, she explained that beneficiaries of the programme involved people who were in active commercial activities but never had the opportunity to access loans.

She said GEEP provided loans of between N10,000 and N300,000 to traders, artisans, enterprising youths, agricultural workers and other micro-service providers under its TraderMoni, MarketMoni and FarmerMoni programmes.

“Since its inception in 2016 to date, GEEP has empowered over 2.3 million such micro-enterprises with interest-free loans to grow their businesses,” Umar-Farouq said.

The minister said about 109,823 beneficiaries from Batches A and B of the N-Power scheme had gone on to set up businesses in their communities.

“We are gratified to note that through N-Power we have achieved a net lowering of the youth unemployment figures despite population growth,” she said.

On the school feeding programme, Umar-Farouq said the joint federal-state initiative was currently being implemented in 34 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

She said the total number of children enrolled on the programme was 9,196,823, as verified by the National Bureau of Statistics, while the total number of cooks was 103,028.

Umar-Farouq also stated that the CCT programme under the NSIP provides targeted monthly cash transfers of N5,000 to poor and vulnerable households.

She said, “It is worthy of note that at the onset of the pandemic, the National Social Register contained data of over 2.6 million poor and vulnerable households (with over 11 million individuals) across 34 states and the FCT.

“With the accelerated registration and rapid expansion, the register has as at June 30 grown to 3.7 million (equivalent to 15.5 million individuals) across 36 states and the FCT.”

The minister further stated that her ministry had finalised the processes for the development of the COVID-19 Rapid Response Register targeting the urban poor, semi and semi-urban areas.

According to her, the World Bank has provided support in finalisation of the template to filter the poor and vulnerable from various databases for validation and registration.

Umar-Farouq added that the government was working to ensure the establishment of the National Disability Commission and the take-off of the National Senior Citizen’s Centre.

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