FG releases N1.6b for women empowerment
From: Agaju Madugba, Katsina
Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Sen. Aisha Alhassan, has said that the Federal Government has set aside a sum of N1.6 billion for women in its social interventions schemes.
She, therefore, urged Nigerians, especially women from across the country, to access various funds under the Federal Government’s Social Investment Intervention Programme, which is designed to empower beneficiaries and reduce poverty as well as rebuild the economies of rural areas.
She listed some of the programmes to include the Conditional Cash Transfer Programme, the job creation programme known as N-Power as well as the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP).
The Minister who spoke, on Wednesday, in Katsina, at a town hall meeting with women groups described the GEEP as a micro-credit programme for men and women, boys and girls who can get interest-free loans with no collateral required.
According to her, “Out of the GEEP fund, the sum of N1.6 billion has been set aside exclusively for women only. The women special fund is known as the National Women Empowerment Fund (NAWEF). Both the GEEP and NAWEF are financial inclusion and micro-credit programmes.
“GEEP is for both men and women who are artisans, farmers, market women or entrepreneurs and each beneficiary can get between N10, 000 and N100, 000 as loan which is repayable in six months with one month grace after disbursement.
“This is an opportunity that Nigerian women never had before, therefore we should take it seriously. We have the zeal to do small businesses in our own way but we don’t have access to capital. This GEEP fund provides an opportunity for women to access capital to start up their businesses.
“These initiatives will also help rebuild the Nigerian economy and complement other economic empowerment strategies of the federal and state governments as well as those of the development partners.
“Government’s aim is to reach those who have no income or working capital to undertake productive livelihood. The NAWEF or GEEP is not for distributing free money or government largesse for buying wrappers.
“Women are known to be straightforward and trustworthy; therefore when they get these loans, I have no doubt that they will pay because the record world over shows that women’s repayment rate of loans is 98 per cent; and I believe Nigerian women will not be any different.”
“Therefore to ensure the sustainability of this programme and to depart from past failed programmes, sanctions have been put in place to deter abuse.”