Women Empowerment: GEEP empowers more women in Benue with interest free loans
According to a UN report, women form a disproportionately large share of the world’s unbanked population. One of the major reasons for this is due to inequalities in income levels between both genders, making women less able to operate accounts in formal financial institutions. Women also rarely have the collateral necessary to access loans from formal financial bodies.
This has led to the rise of women’s microcredit savings and loans groups. These associations are spread across various market clusters in Nigeria and their sole aim is to provide a viable line of credit for its members. These microcredit savings and loans group operate using a contributory methodology where members are required to set aside a little part of their income either weekly or monthly with one designated member having access to that lump loan sum per week/month. This provides a line of credit for members but a major challenge is the amount of time it takes for members to access another loan as it may take months before the loan cycle is complete.
The Government Enterprise and Empowerment Program (GEEP) has bridged this gap through its interest-free loan products: Tradermoni, Marketmoni and Farmermoni. Women have been able to access these loan products through market clusters in the case of Tradermoni and market cooperatives in the case of Marketmoni. These market structures help to keep the women accountable as they receive the loans, put it to good use in their businesses while repaying over a convenient time frame.
This was recently evident in Benue state where enumerations and loan disbursements continued for more traders in Markudi Modern Market and Wurukum Market in Benue state. Most of the TraderMoni beneficiaries who had received the initial N10,000 loan and successfully repaid it were on hand to receive the second loan level of N15,000.
There have been over 40,000 disbursements for TraderMoni and 7,000 for MarketMoni in Benue with women making up a significant percentage of the beneficiaries for both GEEP products. These GEEP products have helped to close the gender gap in access to financial services with women making up 59% of GEEP beneficiaries. This has helped female Tradermoni beneficiaries to set aside a portion of the loans they are accessing in structured financial institutions using either a bank account or mobile wallet. Marketmoni beneficiaries have also recorded a significant and sustained boost in their working capital just from accessing the first loan. They are also able to use this loan to expand their business product offerings while getting included in formal banking structures.
As a popular saying goes, “when you empower a woman, you empower a nation.” With the adoption of GEEP products by women-owned MSMEs, a solid bedrock is being built for national development. Interactions with these beneficiaries show the level of impact of these loans:
Madam Magdalene Clifford who is a Marketmoni beneficiary gave insight into how the loan helped her expand her buka business. “I sell noodles, chips, salad, peppersoup and drinks. My sister was the one that told me about the loan from the Federal Government. She said it was real and that it would help my business. I got further information through my cooperative and I applied for the loan. I received 50,000 naira which I immediately put into my business. Before, I was not selling rice or swallow due to lack of funds. Today, I have expanded my menu options to include these and I have experienced an increase in patronage at my food house. The repayment process has been so easy and I am thankful to the Federal Government for remembering us this way.”
Franca Abani who sells dry fish in Wurukum Market said “I always buy my fish on credit because I do not have enough money to pay the seller fully but with this Tradermoni loan, I have been able to buy dry fish, pay fully and also increase the quantity of dry fish I can buy at a time. This has definitely been a big boost for my business.”
Madam Kankuni who sells foodstuffs described the positive influence that the Tradermoni loan has had on her business, “I initially heard on radio that the government was giving money to petty traders. I was very reluctant to go because in the past, we have been promised this kind of loans but we never got them. I got registered and afterwards, I got a message that my loan was ready. I went to the agent in the market and received my 10,000 naira loan. Before, I only have a small stock of food items to sell but now, I have doubled my stock with this loan. It has really helped my business and I am now saving to get a shop of my own in the market.”
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