The Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Aisha Alhassan, said N200 million would be disbursed to eight pilot states each through the National Women Empowerment Fund, NAWEF, to empower women at the grassroots.
Ms. Alhassan said this during a media briefing on the take-off of the National Women Empowerment Fund, NAWEF, and the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme, GEEP, in Abuja.
She said the eight pilot states are Adamawa, Borno, Yobe, Nasarawa, Jigawa, Akwa Ibom, Osun, and Abia, adding that other states would benefit later.
She added that “the NAWEF targets 10,000 women beneficiaries in each of the pilot states; the condition of the loans both under the GEEP and NAWEF are the same.
“The GEEP programme is one of the five Federal Government Social Investment Programme targeted at providing loans to young men and women from all states on liberal condition.
“Under both programmes, each beneficiary will receive between N10,000 and N100,000, depending on the type of business or trade with no interest, no collateral and repayable in six months.”
Ms. Alhassan said beneficiaries would have to form functional cooperative groups or local trade associations or other community based groups of at least 10 persons per group.
She added that the administering bank for disbursements and recovery which is Bank of Industry (BoI) had concluded all necessary arrangements for the disbursement of the funds to successful beneficiaries.
“By next week, which is October, beneficiaries will be free to access the fund through their individual accounts.
“The repayment schedules are much easier and less stringent than those of conventional banking loans.
“We are sure the country will witness increased economic activities nationwide with the desired multiplier effects and subsequent boost in the economy.”
The minister said measures for monitoring and evaluation of disbursement, usage and recovery had also been put in place.
She added that it was necessary that beneficiaries repay the loans in order for fresh applicants to benefit from the revolving scheme.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Ms. Alhassan had met with state commissioners of women affairs in August on the implementation of the fund.
The fund was specially targeted at grassroots women operating informal businesses, through start ups and scale up credit facilities to reduce high poverty and facilitate growth and entrepreneurial development.