By Omodele Adigun
In order to provide soft loans to entrepreneurs at the bottom of the pyramid, Diamond Bank and Bank of Industry (BoI) have teamed up to equally boost financial inclusion of micro-entrepreneurs through the implementation of the N140 billion Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP).
At a joint briefing to announce the accord Tuesday in Lagos, the Managing Director of Diamond Bank Plc, Mr. Uzoma Dozie, said the objective is to create a sustainable platform for small business entrepreneurs to access finance and grow their businesses
“To use the opportunity we have to drive that, we are collaborating with BoI to use the Government Enterprises Empowerment Programme (GEEP) to provide funding for small businesses. The most interesting part of it is the mechanism in which we are driving it: we are not just doling out cash, but also using indigenous infrastructure to actually drive that.In other words, we are not only providing finance, but also providing financial literacy to drive business”, Dozie added.
Commenting on the partnership, the acting Managing Director of BoI, Mr. Waheed Olagunju, said the Federal Government evolved the scheme because of its passion for sustainable business growth and empowerment of micro-entrepreneurs.
Speaking through his Executive Director, Micro-Enterprises, Mrs. Toyin Adeniji, Olagunju echoed Dozie, saying BoI is going to use GEEP to drive the initiative.
“GEEP is one of the social intervention programmes of the Federal Government executed by the BoI. Through GEEP’s MarketMoni product, government seeks to promote financial inclusion and access to credit for the 1.6 million market women, traders, artisans, cooperatives, youths and smallholder farmers.
“And, actually, when you think about it, they are at the bottom of the pyramid.MarketMoni is a financial inclusion product. The loans are between N10,000 and N100,000. The tenor is six months and the beneficiaries can pay back in weekly instalments.
“The idea is to make the loan easily accessible and affordable to the beneficiaries. Every beneficiary must have a Bank Verification Number (BVN) and belong to an association.
“Basically, it is a loan that is affordable with no interest rate. The only extra money that you see is the administration fees, five per cent which is flat.”
Explaining how Diamond Bank became financial partner for it, Olagunju explained that Diamond Bank had already got 400 customers in terms of the capture of the bottom of the pyramid. So what we are doing in this partnership is to figure out how we can increase the number of the beneficiaries that would enjoy this programme.”