“TraderMoni” as economic empowerment


Recently, the Federal Government has tuned up its various policies of poverty alleviation. One of such policies is the one announced that will see that government empowers two million petty traders across the country with collateral-free loans under its Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme, GEEP. The micro credit scheme known as ‘TraderMoni’ which was launched in Lagos recently would grant a minimum of 30,000 loans in each of the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital territory, FCT, Abuja, between now and the end of the year. The scheme is part of government’s financial inclusion agenda targeted at petty traders whose contributions to the nation’s economic development cannot be neglected.

Who is a petty trader and how does one identify them? That is part of the questions that the implementers of this project will have to educate us as the days and weeks go by. Nevertheless, according to the spokesman of the Vice President, Laolu Akande, “the two million mark is expected to be attained on or before the end of this year, with petty traders in Lagos, Kano and Abia states set to be the first round of beneficiaries to draw the collateral-free loans.” There are also indications that states with larger populations, like Lagos and Kano, are likely to get more than N30,000 loans.

About 500,000 potential beneficiaries have reportedly been enumerated and about 4000 enumeration agents have been engaged by the Bank of Industry, which is managing the new scheme. TraderMoni is designed to help petty traders expand their trade, through the provision of collateral-free loans of N10, 000 which are repayable over a period of six months. Furthermore, beneficiaries of the scheme can also get access to a higher facility, ranging from N15, 000 to N50,000, when they repay N10,000 within the stipulated time frame. The figures may seem small, but knowing our country and the real challenges that confront our people, we welcome the initiative and urge the government to follow due process in the identification of beneficiaries. Government must ensure that the scheme is not politicised as with laudable projects that policy makers have always churned out in the country. There is no doubt that many petty traders need the collateral-free loans to expand their business. We commend the government for this bold initiative and urge that it is quickly expanded to cover more petty traders across the country. We advise the government to include more women in the scheme as a way of closing the gender gap in access to credit facility. Giving credit to small scale traders will undoubtedly boost the economy.

Let all the processes in the scheme be followed through in a transparent manner. This will include the opening of dedicated accounts in nominated banks to ensure proper disbursement and monitoring of loan repayment. While government is well advised to insist on its minimum requirements for would-be beneficiaries, it is important that special care is taken to ensure that the programme is successful and sustainable. We think that two million petty traders earmarked for the scheme in a country of about 200 million people may look small, but we need to know how many petty traders we have at this time.

As a country, it has become very pertinent to clearly identify and locate where citizens are. This will help eliminate multiple beneficiaries which will render the scheme unsustainable. Putting more people in the scheme will accelerate the nation’s economic growth. That is why the selected beneficiaries of the scheme must see themselves as agents of a new dawn in that critical segment of the economy whose response can go a long way in determining the future of the initiative.

It is not out of place for critics to suggest that this scheme is a vote-winning initiative; however one thing that is being deployed for the scheme is Nigeria’s money. And it is incumbent on us to monitor it to ensure the funds get to active beneficiaries. Apart from that we must equally ensure that politicians do not divert these funds to their own selfish uses by warehousing the funds in order to act as big men. Beneficiaries should be selected without recourse to political affiliations and all states and potential beneficiaries covered. The rules of engagement must be applied strictly to ensure that future beneficiaries who will not be covered in the first phase are taken care of in subsequent ones.

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