The Federal Government has announced plans to empower two million petty traders across the country with collateral-free loans under its Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP). The micro credit scheme known as ‘TraderMoni’ which was launched in Lagos recently would grant a minimum of 30,000 loans in each of the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital territory (FCT), Abuja, between now and the end of the year. The scheme is part of government’s financial inclusion agenda targeted at petty traders whose contributions to the nation’s economic development cannot be neglected.
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According to the spokesman of the Vice President, Laolu Akande, “The two million mark is expected to be attained on or before the end of this year, with petty traders in Lagos, Kano and Abia states set to be the first round of beneficiaries to draw the collateral-free loans.” There are also indications that states with larger populations, like Lagos and Kano, are likely to get more than 30,000 loans.
About 500,000 potential beneficiaries have reportedly been enumerated and about 4000 enumeration agents have been engaged by the Bank of Industry, which is managing the new scheme. TraderMoni is designed to help petty traders expand their trade, through the provision of collateral-free loans of N10,000 which are repayable over a period of six months.
We think that two million petty traders earmarked for the scheme in a country of about 200 million people is rather too small and might not achieve the needed impact. Therefore, government should enlarge the scope of the initiative to accommodate more beneficiaries. Putting more people in the scheme will accelerate the nation’s economic growth.
However, in a season of politics, some Nigerians may see the initiative as a vote-winning gimmick of the government. While we give government the benefit of the doubt, it must ensure that the scheme is sustainable and divested of all political influences. Beneficiaries should be selected without recourse to political affiliations and all states and potential beneficiaries covered. The rules of engagement must be applied strictly to ensure that future beneficiaries who will not be covered in the first phase are taken care of in subsequent ones. The stakeholders should work concertedly to ensure that the scheme is successfully implemented.