The Muhammadu Buhari-led administration remains dedicated to lifting more Nigerians out of poverty through interest and collateral free loans, hence, the second phase of the TraderMoni and MarketMoni project has been launched. Started in 2016, the loans are targeted at small scale traders and artisans, giving them access to much needed loans that can grow their businesses and transform the local economy. This was why on Friday, May 3rd 2019, Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo visited two markets in Anambra state— Ochanja Market, Onitsha and Eke Awka, Awka— to assess the impact of the schemes and formally flag-off the second phase of the loan disbursements there.
The Vice President, on his arrival, took a walk around the Eke Awka market—a large cluster market with traders selling different items including foodstuffs, clothing and other local products—engaging new and existing beneficiaries of the scheme, getting firsthand impact stories of the loans on their businesses. He encouraged them to repay the loans in order to access more loans for business expansion. Immediately after his tour, he proceeded to the popular Ochanja market to engage with more traders.
Just before the Vice President left the Ochanja market in Onitsha, he stopped by at ‘one-card repayment’ kiosk, to interact with the agent there and find out the response to the option of card repayment. It’s important to note that the Bank of Industry (BoI) recently rolled-out the voucher-based loan repayment recharge cards for TraderMoni and MarketMoni loans, to enhance the repayment flexibility.
The card repayment provides an option for beneficiaries to pay back their loans in cases where commercial banks may not be close by or easily accessible. After his departure, the activation team responsible for enumeration and cash disbursements continued enumerating more traders for the scheme.
Through the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP), the administration seeks to boost local economies by enumerating and empowering key players with loans. While Tradermoni is targeted at individual petty traders through loans starting at N10,000, MarketMoni is aimed at traders who access grants from N50,000 through their trading associations. In the first phase of loan disbursements, Anambra state had close to 30,000 direct beneficiaries for the TraderMoni loan and more than 4,000 beneficiaries received the MarketMoni loan. The second phase is targeted at reaching new and existing beneficiaries; new beneficiaries will access the basic opening loan while existing beneficiaries will receive the next stage of the loan after they have repaid their first loan. With the successful launch, it is expected more petty traders and small business owners will become beneficiaries of the interest free government loans.
New beneficiaries are committed to using the loans to boost their businesses so that they can repay the loans on time and access more.
“I heard about the TraderMoni loans and was quite excited about it, so I decided to apply for it so I can get the loan and add to my business. I have received it now, and making plans to properly add it to my business. I’m grateful to the government for this initiative. I promise to refund so I can get a higher loan value,” says Chidinma Eze, a delighted trader that sells garri in Eke Awka, and a first-time TraderMoni beneficiary.
Many traders were largely encouraged by the ease of access to the loans. All the beneficiaries need to do to access the loans is to get registered by accredited agents in their markets, supplying their correct information including their phone number, which serves as the “wallet”. The information goes through a process for verification, and upon approval, their “wallets” are then credited with the loan facility – for TraderMoni, N10,000 and for MarketMoni, N50,000. They can choose to cash out at the bank or from registered agents.
MarketMoni loan beneficiaries are also repaying their loans. Donatus Ngwu, a welder and panel beater by training who has a poultry farm, received the N50,000 MarketMoni loan in the first phase. Ngwu used the loans to upgrade his poultry in order to increase yield. He has almost completed his repayments.
“I’m currently repaying the loan, which is almost complete. I look forward to completing the loan and get the another. I’ll encourage the government to keep doing more of this, so they can empower more people to grow their businesses,” Ngwu says.
According to Mr. Bertrand Onyekachi, one the agents in the state, the scheme has been largely beneficial to many people since it commenced in 2016, giving the traders more financial powers to upgrade their business operations. He cited an example of a trader, a graduate who sells second-hand shoes, and has now been able to acquire a shop for her business with the MarketMoni loan, successfully repaid, and now expecting the next. He acknowledged some challenges with loan repayments but is positive about the recent trends of traders being encouraged to repay and get another loan.
The continuation of the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Program, through the Bank of Industry (BoI), is a testament to the current administration’s commitment to reaching out to the masses in the lower class with direct government support, in order to further enlarge the economy.