• Thursday, May 23, 2024
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GEEP: Impacting lives, reducing poverty

GEEP: Impacting lives, reducing poverty

The Government Enterprise & Empowerment Program (GEEP) is making a huge impact on the lives of Nigeria’s bottom of the pyramid. Before the launch of the programme in 2016, those in that class had thought they were forgotten citizens, as government programmes focused mainly on the middle-class and the rich segments of the country.

GEEP has brought smiles on the faces of the poor since its launch. About 2.4 million petty traders, artisans and MSMES and MSMES have so far been supported to grow their businesses. The microloans have helped the petty traders revive their businesses and boost their earnings.

It has also enabled MSMES hit by COVID-19 lockdown measures to have access to micro funds that will enable them to stay afloat. About 87, 614 micro businesses benefitted from the COVID-19 intervention loans in the first phase. The second phase of the loans will be disbursed to 412,368 traders across the country to boost their productivity and ease the impact of lockdowns on them.

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GEEP has become a critical vehicle for reducing poverty in Africa’s most populous country. Local and international data say poverty has been on the rise in recent times owing to global fundamentals and absence of programmes focusing on the poor in the past. In 2018, World Poverty Clock and Brookings Institute said 87 million Nigerians were extremely poor. In May 2020, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said that 40 per cent of Nigerians lived below the poverty line of N137,430 ($381.75) per year, representing 82.9 million people out of a population of about 200 million. Similarly, unemployment has risen to 27 percent in the second quarter of 2020, from 23 percent in the third quarter of 2018.

The Federal Government is not living in denial, which is why it introduced the Government Enterprise & Empowerment Program (GEEP) to reduce poverty and unemployment while improving livelihoods. A lot of micro traders who have benefitted from the programme are testifying that the process of getting the loans is seamless and that the loans are lifting them out of poverty.

Makinde Helen sells palm oil at Oja Bisi market in Ekiti State. She had been in the business for over 10 years before having an encounter with the GEEP team. Until GEEP came, she had been making little profit from palm oil because she sold in small portions.

One day, she came to the market and overheard women saying that the Federal Government was helping petty traders. “They told me that the government wanted to add to our capital so we don’t sit idle at home,” she said.

“One of the people came to register me. They asked for my name, phone number and they took a picture of me and my goods. They said I would get a text message the next day. I was so surprised I got the text message the next day and they came to give us the money,” she testified.

Helen got N10,000, which has helped her get two extra kegs without having to buy on credit. She is hoping to get more after paying back. “This means I can now buy three kegs. Also, my profit has increased. In fact, I am so happy,” she further said.

In four years, GEEP variants such as Tradermoni, Marketmoni and Farmermoni have provided loans ranging from N10,000 to N300,000 to petty traders, artisans, small businesses and farmers. This has seen over two million Nigerians significantly receiving boosts to their businesses. GEEP has been implemented in 36 states of the federation and the FCT with a spread of over 2,600 market clusters.

These loans are not given out at random. Instead, they are done through existing clusters and associations in various markets across the country. This helps in proper tracking of the loans and provision of easy repayment options for the beneficiaries.

GEEP has also been able to provide this access to credit to IDPS in the North East. This has provided the IDPS with a viable way to get back on their feet while also contributing to economic development. To ensure that these loans get to the target audience, market visits are done across the country to engage with beneficiaries as they go through the process.

The programme has become critical due to the economic situation worsened by COVID-19. It has helped micro businesses in the country to begin to dream again, after many have lost hope.

“I want government to continue with this programme because it will help many families,” one of the beneficiaries, Aisha Adamu, a local fruits seller at Jimeta Modern Market, Yola, said.