By G9ija

2.3 million Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises have accessed interest-free loan facilities under the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) in the four years of its operation, the Nigerian government said on Friday.

The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar-Farouq, speaking at the first year anniversary of her ministry in Abuja, said GEEP had the objective of bringing credit support and financial inclusion closer to more than 37 million Nigerians at the bottom of the economic pyramid.

GEEP, alongside the N-Power Programme, Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Programme and National Home Grown School Feeding Programme, is an initiative under government-backed National Social Investment Programme.

The minister stated that the scheme’s beneficiaries comprised people who engaged in active commercial activities but who lacked access to credit.

GEEP, according to her, offers loans of between N10,000 and N300,000 to traders, enterprising youths, artisans, agricultural workers and other micro-service providers through its TraderMoni, FarmerMoni and MarketMoni programmes.

‘Since its inception in 2016 to date, GEEP has empowered over 2.3 million such micro-enterprises with interest-free loans to grow their businesses,’ Ms Umar-Farouq said.

She affirmed that around 109,823 beneficiaries from Batches A and B of the N-Power programme had gone ahead to establish their businesses.

‘We are gratified to note that through N-Power we have achieved a net lowering of the youth unemployment figures despite population growth.’

A joint federal-state initiative was currently being implemented in 34 states and the Federal Capital Territory for the school feeding programme, she added, saying 9,196,823 children and 103,028 cooks had been enrolled.

Umar Farouq also declared that the CCT programme offers targeted monthly cash transfers of N5000 to poor and vulnerable households.