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TraderMoni records success in the North Central

Jennifer Iorfa, a petty trader from Gboko, Benue state makes and sells the local guinea corn milk called 'kunu' in local parlance and fried yam at a government secondary school close to her house in Gboko. One night, she heard about a government loan on TV and wondered when or how she could benefit until one of the teams on the government project came to one of the popular markets in her state capital, Makurdi. She ensured she was enumerated to be a beneficiary of the loan. Afterwards, she received a confirmation text message and subsequently, the TraderMoni collateral free loan of N10,000. With this, she bought ingredients for her business in larger quantities which enabled her to sell more.

Jennifer made decent returns to improve the living conditions of her family and repaid her loan of N10,250 – the extra N250 been the administrative charges on the loan — from her profits. Immediately after her loan repayment was processed, she received a text message informing her that she has qualified for the next loan stage, which is N15,000.

"With this N15,000 loan, I will be able to make more kunu, sell more and pay back," she says with smiles on her face.

Jennifer's story is just one out over two million beneficiaries that have received the collateral and interest free government loan called TraderMoni across the country.

Image: Jennifer Iorfa, a N15,000 TraderMoni Beneficiary in Benue state.

According to data from the Bank of Industry, only 0.04% of SMEs in Nigeria could access bank loans despite employing over 80% of Nigeria's labour force – a staggering statistics that is poor at best if not abysmal. This is one major gap the Federal Government set out to plug with Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) – and so far, the testimonies received have shown significant success in closing this gap.

In 2017, the government of President Buhari launched GEEP as one of the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP) for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and executed in partnership with the Bank of Industry. TraderMoni, of which Jennifer mentioned above was a beneficiary, is easily the most popular of the three schemes under GEEP which includes MarketMoni and FarmerMoni. It has so far reached over two million petty traders and small business owners across the country.

Before this project, people like Jennifer may never stand a chance at getting loans from traditional commercial banks primarily because of many barriers involved including lack of collateral and/or formal bank accounts – and this has largely excluded people in her category from financial inclusion.

One of the major successes of GEEP is therefore the increase in financial inclusion of the largely unreached population by bringing them onboard and giving them access to the formal financial ecosystem. In fact, it is primarily due to this significant impact that led to the Bank of Industry winning the award for 'Financial Inclusion' at the recent Africa Banker's award in held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.

On how TraderMoni is driving financial inclusion, GEEP's COO, Mr. Uzoma Nwagba has this to say, "For the TraderMoni scheme (for petty traders at the very bottom of the pyramid), we are taking a slightly different approach of not requiring BVNs or bank accounts as our targets are significantly less educated or sophisticated. We need to first solve their problem of access and reduce the barriers to that. So, we use what they have: their mobile phones."

"It is only on the second loan that the BVN and bank account requirements kicks on, and therefore the digital collateral. As a result, we make a conscious effort with their first TraderMoni loan to make the carrot more attractive than the stick. That is, we make it very simple to get the next higher loan (N15,000) once the first loan (N10, 000). You literally receive a disbursement in minutes when you dial a USSD code after paying your first loan"

Through the TraderMoni scheme, many micro business owners and artisans have been empowered across all 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

At the International Market, Lokoja is Suleiman Idris Mustapha who sells phones accessories and also charges phones. As a beneficiary, he says, "It was right here in the market they came to meet us, and of course, I registered. Many people didn't believe that this loan by the government is real but I here am with the N10,000 which is a very good boost and incentive for my petty business. I can also confirm that some of my relatives in Kano state have also received the loan."

Mrs. Nkiru Success is another TraderMoni beneficiary in Plateau state.  According to her, "When I was asked by the agents of the scheme if I am interested in the business loan, and I said yes. So, I was registered and afterwards, I received a confirmation and congratulatory message."

"I jubilated and started danced, even my children were surprised. This loan that came without so much stress in a good motivation for me to work harder and repay so I can get the next one of N15,000."

Also, another beneficiary, Ahmed Muhammad who sells shoes at the Terminus Market Jos said he makes an average of N300 to N500 profits daily which is quite small for sustenance both the N10,000 loan will empower him to get more goods at cheaper prices which will increase his profit margins. 

At popular Ipata Market, in Kwara state, Risikat Agbeyangi, a pepper seller also received the N10,000 TraderMoni loan, according to her, "We thank the president for his support to us; it was timely and met our personal and business needs, some of us expanded our business with it.

From International Market in Kogi state to Ipata Market in Kwara state to Ultra-Modern Market in Lafia, every part of the North Central was reached and the testimonials of the beneficiaries are evidence of the success of this empowerment programme.

Did You Know?

GEEP has impacted over 2 million small and micro businesses.

Over 56% of beneficiaries are female.

Professions: Artisans, petty traders, farmers and market women. 

Over 2600 markets have been activated across the 774 LGAs in the 36 states and the F.C.T.

GEEP has worked with 7000 market cooperatives, farming clusters and field agents.

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