The Bank of Industry under the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme has signed an agreement with Oxfam to disburse N200m to Oxfam’s Village Saving and Loan Associations in Nassarawa, Benue and Plateau states.
The BoI is executing the Federal Government’s micro-credit initiative, the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme; while Oxfam’s implementing partners, Young Men Christian Association, Nigerian Association of Women in Agriculture, and Cocin Community Development Programme, will be responsible for monitoring and supporting the beneficiaries to effectively utilise the funds in Nassarawa, Benue and Plateau states, respectively
The money is expected to strengthen the living capacity and resilience of poor households in rural communities.
According to Oxfam:
- The initiative, tagged ‘GEEP MarketMoni’ provides the first batch of the loans meant to expand the activities of about 500 farmer groups in some communities in the three states.
- The partnership is born out of the need to target the most marginalised and hard to reach in the rural communities in line with the objectives of the Federal Government’s social intervention policy.
- Oxfam’s Village Savings and Loans Associations are self-managed community-based groups that provide their members access to basic financial services.
- Each group is said to be made up of “self-selected 15 to 25 individuals who meet regularly (usually weekly or fortnightly) to save and, if desired, borrow for short periods, paying monthly interest at a rate set by the group.
- Apart from the primary goal of increasing access to credit to the ’unbanked’ at the bottom of the pyramid, the scheme has significantly improved community cohesion and active citizenship in communities where the project is being implemented while building the resilience of rural farmers towards saving for unforeseen circumstances.
- Women who hitherto did not have voice or engaged in community governance issues had become very vocal and confident as a result of their participation in the scheme, hence greatly improving their leadership skills.
In addition, the Executive Director, Microenterprise Directorate at the BoI, Mrs. Toyin Adeniji, said the funds were part of the Federal Government’s mandate to the BoI to achieve, amongst others, financial inclusion and access to credit for 1.6 million beneficiaries across target segments of market women and traders, artisans, enterprising youths, agricultural workers, agro-allied processors and other MSME categories.