Federal Government on Monday declared that it has so far spent N15 billion on interest-free loans across the country.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo stated this while speaking at the 9th Presidential Quarterly Business Forum at the old Banquet Hall of the State House, Abuja.
This is just as government said it is working through the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council, PEBEC, to improve the business environment
Osinbajo who declared that the MSME clinics carried out across the country have been a great successes, said he has personally attended 18 of the 20 clinics carried in 20 States so far.
He stated that government also expanded the micro credit to small businesses, under the Government Empowerment & Enterprise Programme (GEEP),
“N15.183 billion in interest-free loans ranging from N50,000 to N350,000 have been disbursed to more than 300,000 market women, traders, artisans, farmers across all 36 States of the country and the FCT. (By the way, 56% of the loans have gone to women)”
“We took the view that since the largest number of small businesses in Nigeria are the market women and men and petty traders, we needed to expand the opportunities in these categories.
“Our energizing economies project is putting power especially solar power in markets and commercial clusters. We have powered Ariara Market, Aba; Sabongari Market, Kano; Sura market in Lagos, Isinkan market in Ondo, Bola Ige market in Ibadan, Oyo State and Edaiken market in Benin, Edo State.
“So there are actual interactions with the small businesses. Our focus has been to ensure that the regulators understand their role as facilitators not an obstacle to business. We are also establishing one-stop shops in the States, where all regulators are under the same roof in the States”:
He announced that the Federal Government is currently working with eight banks who are very committed to the Tradamoney scheme, adding that “ If we spend N1 trillion to bail out the poor in this country every year, we will make a massive difference.”
Osinbajo noted that the Buhari administration had taken job creation, adding that “the surest way to create jobs is by enabling the private sector”
He applauded the National Agency for Food, Drugs Administration and Control NAFDAC and the Corporate Affairs Commission CAC, for their efforts at improving on the ease of doing business in the country.
“The smallest businesses; the one table trader; the bread or plantain seller or the Mai Shai”
“This is the largest segment of our working population; their inventory is no more than N5,000 – N10,000. But they are an important part of the value chain of most goods. They sell the single sachets of soap, sugar, and spices to the largest numbers of our people. But they are forgotten and ignored in economic plans and budgets, and considered too unwieldy and risky for micro credit loans.
“ The N Power programme is the largest post-tertiary jobs project in Africa placing 500,000 young people in existing teaching jobs and also identifying new roles they could fill in the health and agriculture sectors.
“Some of our N power graduates are also being employed as enumerators for data collection and research because of the new skills they have gained. In addition to these 500,000 N Power graduates, we have 20,000 non graduates working and learning as part of the N Build programme in various construction, the automotive and technology sectors.
He announced that government has empowered 2 million petty traders under the Trader Moni scheme, giving microcredit across the country.
The scheme, he explained, “enables them to draw further credit if they are able to pay back within six months”
“By giving them credit to replenish and increase their inventories, we give them a stronger chance, to earn more, while they also service the value chain that they are a part of.
“But more importantly, we bring them into the formal sector, where they have access to government and private credit and we lift more permanently out of poverty.
“An important feature of the program is financial inclusion. GEEP has led to the opening of 349,000 new bank accounts/wallets for beneficiaries and intending beneficiaries” he said.
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