The Government Enterprise and Empowerment Program (GEEP) has provided palliative microloans for 87,614 petty traders hit by COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria.
In line with the vision of the Federal Government to curb poverty and boost productivity in different parts of Nigeria, thousands of petty traders in 20 states across the country were reached in the first phase of disbursement.
The second phase of the disbursements will target 412,386 petty traders across the country.
COVID-19 has disrupted economic activities due to movement restrictions and lock-down directives across the country. This led the Federal Government in April 2020 to leverage its GEEP infrastructure in disbursing palliative microloans to petty traders and artisans. These palliative microloans have helped petty traders revive their business, as the government eases lock-down measures nationwide.
GEEP is one of the social intervention programmes, comprising TraderMoni, MarketMoni and FarmerMoni, and executed by the Bank of Industry. It 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.
All petty traders who received the palliative microloans enjoyed the 3-month moratorium, directed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
A number of beneficiaries shared their relief at getting these loans, expressing appreciation to the government for supporting them at a time like this.
Blessing Mohammed, a plantain seller at Obalende, Lagos, complained that business has literally stopped since the coronavirus pandemic started
“I have not been able to restock my small plantain business because nobody was making any purchases. I was at the neighbourhood shopping place where we sell our goods to people in the community and I noticed the loan registration was going on. I registered and I got the alert on my phone. It was a market day, so I was able to rush and buy plantain from the market. I am able to sell to people in our community and I will repay the loan quickly because there is no interest attached to it,” she said.
Isioma Otodo, a micro trader in Lagos, had words of gratitude for the government.
“I sell groundnut oil, macaroni, indomie, maggi, pepper, salt and other things. You know we earn a living from daily buying and selling, but people have not been able to come out because of the coronavirus. We got a message from our local government to register for this loan. The loan will help our business now that the lockdown has been lifted. The good part is that the loan is interest free, so I can pay back within the 6 months period. We thank the Federal government for this loan.”
Mrs Taiwo, another petty trader in Lagos, said she saw a message encouraging traders to register for GEEP and had to leverage that. She explained that the money she got from GEEP is a big relief at this time, expressing appreciation to the Federal Government for supporting her at this period of economic downturn occasioned by COVID-19.