Uncertainty in accessing loans under the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) and cumbersome registration processes are some of the challenges being faced by Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) that seek to get the Marketmoni facility being disbursed by the Bank of Industry (BOI).
Hajiya Maimuna Sani narrates her ordeal: "We were told by the head of our co-operative that Bank of Industry (BOI) was giving out loans of between N10,000 and N100,000 to boost small businesses and that we should apply. We applied, opened accounts with the stipulated banks and sent our BVNs but almost one year after, we are yet to receive the money."
Sani continues: "Our leaders under the GEEP Advocacy Platform (GAP) have met with officials of BOI and representatives of the Presidential Delivery Unit of the Office of the Vice President, but over one month down the line, no member of our cooperative has received any loan."
At the one-day interactive session organised by GAP and the DFID Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL) held in Abuja, last week, leaders of 30 identified national associations that have members at the state and local government levels brainstormed on the ways on ensuring the successful implementation of GEEP.
Many of them expressed dismay by what they said was the ineffectiveness of BOI even though it had promised in its earlier meeting that some of the issues would be resolved promptly.
For instance, at the earlier meeting held with BOI and the Presidential Delivery Unit of the office of the Vice President, the Executive Director of Bank of Industry (BOI), Toyin Adeniji, said the bank has created an online platform called Direct to Association Portal (http://apply.marketmoni.com.ng) for association heads to upload their members' applications directly on BOI website.
On cumbersome registration process, she said GEEP no longer requires beneficiaries to produce BVNs to complete registration. This will make it easier for those in the rural areas. There is also no need for beneficiaries to open new accounts for GEEP purposes if they already have an existing bank account.
On late disbursement of loans, she announced that they were introducing the quick GEEP loans where loan disbursement can be done in three days through prompt phone registration process which was tested by the executive director herself and found to be reliable.
But the leaders of cooperatives said they have adhered to all these but most of their members have not gotten the loan from BOI.
The representative of the Presidential Delivery Unit of the office of the Vice President, Mr Michael Amechi, said at the forum that out of the N140 billion earmarked as a revolving fund for the GEEP/Marketmoni programme from the N500 billion Social Investment Programme (SIP) for 2017, only N12.8 billion has been disbursed nationwide. And out of the 1.1 million people that are supposed to be beneficiaries, only 256,458 benefited nationwide this year.
This number shows that less than a quarter of the applicants have benefited from the GEEP fund.
In a communiqué read by the chairperson of the GEEP Advocacy Platform (GAP), Mrs. Rose D.S Gyar, signed by other executives of the group, they are asking for quick disbursement of the loans amongst other issues.
"There should be quick disbursement of loans to beneficiaries who have qualified to access loans under the GEEP programme rather than the long delay presently experienced by beneficiaries.
"GEEP should clearly communicate and adhere to a specific time frame for beneficiaries to receive the loans once successfully registered on the scheme," it said.
The MSME BMOs also urged BOI to address key service delivery challenges denying beneficiaries from accessing the loans in order to boost the confidence of MSMEs operators particularly those in the rural areas to participate in the GEEP programme
There is need to simplify the operational framework for GEEP. There is also need to include mobilemoney agents in the disbursement and repayment of GEEP loans. This will be useful to rural dwellers.
The planning and management of the GEEP process should include national association leaders to ensure ownership, accountability and sustainability of the programme, the communiqué stated.
The representative of the Presidential Delivery Unit of the office of the Vice President, Mr Michael Amechi, promised to convey the communiqué of the GAP to the office and also for BOI to take action to ensure the speedy disbursement of the GEEP loans to beneficiaries.