GEEP, An Instrument Of Poverty Alleviation And Economic Development
The Nigerian National Bureau of Statistics said in 2020 that 40% or 83 million Nigerians live in poverty. Although Nigeria’s poverty profile for 2021 has not yet been released, it is estimated that the number of poor people will increase to 90 million, or 45% of the population in 2022 Blessing Bature-Akpakpan seeks to explicate the efforts of President Buhari led-administration at addressing the challenges of credit and financial inclusion for over 37 million Nigerians at the base of the pyramid who are involved in active commercial activity but have never had the opportunity to access loans.
Upon taking up the realm of affairs over 6-years ago, President Muhammadu Buhari had showed purposeful leadership and his empowerment drive by catering to this segment of the society, when in 2016 the Government Enterprise & Empowerment Programme (GEEP) was established under the National Social Investments Programmes (NSIP) with the mission to provide financial power to all qualified citizens of the country. Since the introduction of the program in 2016, many Nigerians have benefited from it and more are still expected to enjoy this financial aid in the later years.
In the last four years, GEEP has so far provided incremental loans of between N10,000 and N300,000 to about 2.3 million beneficiaries who are traders, artisans, enterprising youth, agricultural workers and other micro-service providers; under it’s flagship Programmes tradermoni, marketmoni and farmermoni.
The Programme (GEEP) has provided financial inclusion and access to micro-credit for Nigerians at the bottom of the economic pyramid. Through GEEP many small business owners had been able to access loans to either start or grow their existing businesses and on-board these beneficiaries into the formal financial system through bank accounts, mobile wallets, and formal identities.
In April 2020, the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development activated the GEEP infrastructure again for the purpose of providing urgent micro loans to petty traders and artisans nationwide to cushion the economic hardships of COVID-19. Recall that GEEP is the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme, one of the social intervention programmes, comprising TraderMoni, MarketMoni and FarmerMoni, and executed by the Bank of Industry. GEEP is a completely digitised programme where all eligible traders are captured into a database, verified via phone and facial recognition technology, and receive disbursements in mobile wallets.
These urgent micro loans are reaching 1,000,000 petty traders and artisans nationwide. Note, Small and micro enterprises at the bottom of the economic pyramid had been hit hardest by lockdown restrictions. These micro loans are to cushion the income losses experienced during the lockdown.
This 1,000,000 traders benefitting from new GEEP loans nationwide, as well as all existing beneficiaries have a 3-month moratorium on their loans, as directed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Economic Impacts of this loan on the citizens and Nigeria as a nation can not be over emphasized as number of beneficiaries shared their relief at getting these loans, just at a time when they weren’t sure how to restart their various businesses, due to a loss of income over the past months.
Sharing his testimony on GEEP, Segun Ogungbero who is an artisan in Ogbomosho said he couldn’t access a micro-credit interest-free loan before GEEP that can boost his carpentry business but the arrival of GEEP however has enabled him an ordinary Nigerian artisan access to such facilities for the growth of his small business.
Also, Haruna Mohamed a farmer in Kano State couldn’t access credit facilities that can enable him purchase fertilizers and seedling for his farm and Chinyere a mother of three in Aba, couldn’t access loans that will help her acquire more textile products for her clothing business and appreciated president Buhari for coming up with this initiatives to cater for the needs of the Vulnerables.
For the past five (5) years, the GEEP programme has been able to target, and deliver credit to over 2.3 million people under the MSMEs demographic using Biometrics, Bank Verification Number (BVN) as digital collateral, mobile data capture and mobile wallets.
It was indeed a sight to behold when in 2019, the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo traversed markets across the country personally handing out loans to traders.
However, with poverty alleviation programmes as well as social development programmes now under the purview of the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, the Ministry in the past two years of its existence, have effectively taken over and streamlined these programmes.
In furtherance of poverty eradication, Empowerment generation, growth and development of MSMEs throughout the federal republic of Nigeria inline with President Buhari administration’s revolutionary mission of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next ten years, the Minister, Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar-Farouq said the ministry has thus come up with GEEP 2.0, as a revamped and restructured version of the programme, GEEP 2.0 to effectively expands its scope while unbundling the constituency of under-privileged and most vulnerable people by targeting particular segments.
Under GEEP 2.0 TraderMoni will give special attention to empowering under-privileged and marginalized youths who lack access to education, orphans, the disabled and abandoned out-of-school children, FarmerMoni will now promote agro-entrepreneurship by supporting farmers engaged in crop cultivation, livestock, poultry and fisheries while MarketMoni will empower marginalized women such as widows, divorcees, women in the Internally Displaced Camps, women who are bread-winners of their families and other women with entrepreneurial skills.
During the official launch of the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Program (GEEP 2.0), the Minister said GEEP programme has proven to be a veritable tool to end poverty as it targets the unbanked poor and vulnerable but skilled population that have always been left out on credit delivery programmes and is directed at providing soft and affordable loans to finance their businesses.
According to Farouq, so far over 12 million households has benefited from National Social Investment Programmes (NSIPs) and President Buhari has given gracious approval to the expansion and provide loans to an additional 1,000,000 beneficiaries, with emphasis to targeting small holder farmers in the year 2020/2021 across the country.
GEEP 2.0 is well coordinated and has an implementation model that accommodates representation at the Federal, State and Local Government levels. Part of the new strategies include an increase in the loan portfollo of TraderMon/ and Market Moni loans from N10,000.00 to N50,000.00, while the FarmerMoni is now N300,000 along with the provision of value chain and creation of digital marketplace (E-platform) for beneficiaries to sell their products.
Recently, the federal government, through the Federal ministry of humanitarian affairs, disaster management and social development flag- off the commencement of 510,000 N-Power Batch C Stream 1 for the 36 States and FCT as parts of President Buhari’s led-administration to wright off poverty in Nigeria, where the N-Power Volunteer (graduates) are entitled to a monthly stipend of Thirty Thousand Naira each (N30,000.00) for a period of one year while the non-graduate beneficiaries are entitled to Ten Thousand Naira (N10,000.000) monthly stipends for a period of 9 months. And all beneficiaries are granted an appropriate starter pack for their trade to enable them start their businesses in their chosen trades”.
Based on these empiricals, GEEP currently remain the main driving force behind the poverty reduction in Nigeria and GEEP 2.0 is a continuation of the Buhari administration’s laudable empowerment drive committed to the upliftment of oppressed Nigerians and hope the programme will continue to engender job creation, poverty alleviation, youth empowerment as well as enrich entrepreneurial skills acquisition amongst vulnerable groups.