About 23,400 artisans and traders in 13 states and the Federal Capital Territory have so far benefited from soft loans disbursed under the federal government’s Enterprise and Empowerment Programme, GEEP.
The loans, which are a part of President Muhammadu Buhari’s Social Investment Programmes, SIPs, were disbursed in Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Ekiti, Kogi, Kwara, Niger, Lagos, Osun, Ogun, Oyo, Ondo, Rivers and the FCT.
The micro-credit scheme is a no-interest loan scheme, with only a one-time 5 per cent administrative fee charged for costs.
The loan is targeted at micro-enterprises: traders, artisans, market men and women, entrepreneurs, and farmers with the involvement of cooperatives, and executed through the Bank of Industry, BOI.
Over one million others who have already enrolled for the programme across the country are expected to benefit this year.
To facilitate the loan disbursement, four payment providers were signed-on for the programme, mostly in the urban areas.
The presidency said the next round of payment providers would come on stream by March and would provide a much wider coverage in the rural areas.
A statement from the office of the Vice president said about 8,436 market associations and cooperatives nationwide have been registered for the scheme through the web portal www.boi.ng/market as well as through paper application forms.
The loans range from N10,000, to N100,000 per applicant. While the loans would be paid directly to individuals, they are expected to belong to registered associations and/or cooperatives, to ensure that they were peer-endorsed as credible, and to facilitate timely repayments.
The presidency said all beneficiaries must have BVNs and bank accounts through which the payments would be made.
On the progress made with the National Homegrown School Feeding Programme, the presidency said actual feeding of pupils was expected to commence this week in Ogun and Oyo States, while Ebonyi State would soon follow suit.
Contrary to insinuations in some quarters and inaccurate reports in some sections of the media, there are no payment issues or any kind of food rationing taking place in states where the Homegrown School Feeding Programme has kicked off.
While the Federal Government has paid all approved cooks based on the number of pupils allocated to each cook, it is the state that provides the number of pupils to be fed. And where those figures change, the next batch of FG payment would reflect it.
Specifically, where the number of pupils increased, the presidency said the state governments would communicate the increase for review.
“The numbers of the new pupils would be physically verified, before a commensurate number of cooks are engaged, trained and then paid,” the presidency said.
Already, the government said it had adopted a system to pay the cooks about 10-day advance payment for feeding. The programme is designed to ensure that no cook feeds more than 150 pupils a day, but in some cases, the numbers are as low as 35 children per cook.
“The meal, which must be sufficient and nutritious, is costed around locally sourced items and approved by the state under the N70 per child provision by the Federal Government. Food quality is monitored at the school level through the head teachers, the Parent Teachers Association, PTA, and the state monitoring teams.
“About 11 states have so far indicated their readiness to commence the school feeding programme having met government’s set criteria.
“The progress so far recorded with the Homegrown School Feeding Programme, the N-Power Teach for unemployed graduates, the Conditional Cash Transfer for the poorest, and the GEEP underscores the Buhari Presidency’s commitment to the plight of poor Nigerians and unemployed youth in the country,” the government said.