With over 23 million Nigerians financially excluded, the introduction of TraderMoni by the Federal Government in conjunction with Bank of Industry could not have come at a better time.
According to a 2018 World Bank report, 6% of Nigerian adults use a mobile money account; this is small compared to 21% in sub-Saharan Africa overall. Yet “roughly seven in 10 adults have a mobile phone, including 35 million unbanked adults, among them 20 million women. This offers a tremendous opportunity to expand mobile money if the necessary infrastructure, including the number of agents, is put in place,” the report states.
With the GEEP loans, this narrative is changing—it is building agent networks, empowering the mobile banking space, as well as putting mobile money in hands that hitherto onlydealt with raw cash. Behind the success of the disbursement of the loans are growing mobile technology companies working to ensure financial inclusion among Nigerians even in the remotest places.
Managed by the Bank of Industry, the GEEP products—TraderMoni, FarmerMoni and MarketMoni—are aimed at improving financial inclusion, and increasing access to affordable credit. Tradermoni is targeted at individual petty traders with loans starting at N10,000; MarketMoni, for traders who access loans from N50,000 through their trading/market associations while FarmerMoni, focuses on farmers/farming collectives to access loans up to N300,000.
So far, working with over 4,000 enumeration agents across Nigeria, TraderMoni has registered more than 4million petty traders in 2,600 markets across the 774 LGAs in Nigeria.Of those registered, about 1.2million have received the first level N10,000TraderMoni loans, and about 1m new mobile wallet accounts have been created.
Chief Mrs. Mufliat Adewunmi, Iyaloja of Ojuwoye Market was very appreciative of TraderMoni when it was launched in Lagos. “We are happy about TraderMoni because it is a thing we have been expecting. The government should assist the masses especially the traders. We thank Trader Moni, then we thank the Federal Government that bring this program to us. It will help a lot, especially we traders because we all know what we have been facing in the bank.”
Similarly, Imo Anasonye, the Director General, Abia Chapter of National Association of Small and Medium Scale Industrialists, commended the Federal Government for remembering poor Nigerians in its plan to assist them with soft loans through TraderMoni.He noted with delight the continuity of this present administration in empowering traders at different levels.
He said, “Last year, the government implemented the first leg of the programme called the MarketMoni where it disbursed loans from N50, 000 to N100, 000 per beneficiary.Now, the government has come up with the TraderMoni which is like season two of that engagement programme .I commend the government for coming up with such initiative.”
TraderMoni beneficiaries have praised the Federal Government for making the process transparent, easy and fast.
A tricycle operator in Uyo who identifies himself as Willy Willy who was at first skeptical about TraderMoni shared his experience. “The registration was very easy. They took my picture and my details. It’s just like going to the modern bank. It didn’t waste any time. I got the money on my phone. I have been looking for a loan from banks to service my tricycle but it didn’t come. I will use this N10,000 to make my tricycle roadworthy so my passengers can enjoy a smooth ride. As I am operating the tricycle, I will be paying the money back. I will be faithful in paying the money so I can get more money.”
Another TraderMoni beneficiary, Rabiu Muhammed, a zobo drink seller in Kano praised the government for the loan. Without having to leave his station in the market and risk losing sales, he said that the TraderMoni agent captured his details under ten minutes and within a few days, he received the credit alert on his phone. He promised to use the money to buy more ingredients to allow him make and sell more zobo. He said the money he makes from his business is what he uses to support his family.
Through TraderMoni and the other GEEP products, millions of Nigerians are beginning to access credit for the expansion of their businesses irrespective of their financial and social backgrounds.
According to Mrs Toyin Adeniji, Executive Director, Bank of Industry, “The goal of TraderMoni is to take financial inclusion down to the grassroots. The President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration recognised the contribution of petty traders to economic development and identified the fact that some of them may not have what the commercial banks may require to give loans, hence, his support for this initiative to help them grow their businesses.”
Research has shown that access to financial services and financial inclusion is a way to reduce poverty;when banking deposits increase, more credit is made available which in turns drives consumption and investment, leading to economic growth through the proliferation of jobs. If Nigeria will move ahead, it is Nigerians—in the marketplace, media, entertainment, agriculture, ICT, everywhere—that will push the country, not oil. With ambitious initiatives such as TraderMoni from the Federal Government, Nigeria is making tangible gains in driving financial inclusion.
These gains signal huge possibilities for the future—where these formerly unbanked Nigerians can also begin to use the technologies as payment platforms, to increase business interactions and to improve the economy.