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Bank of Industry, two others to partner on financial inclusion

The Bank of Industry (BoI), Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) have gone into partnership to deepen financial inclusion and poverty eradication in Nigeria. Mrs Toyin Adeniji, Executive Director, Micro Enterprises, BoI, made the disclosure during a visit with the directors of the foundations to the Lagos State Plank and Building Materials Market Association. Adeniji said that the partnership was to support the Federal Government’s social intervention programme, ‘Market Moni’, done under Government Enterprises and Empowerment Programme (GEEP).

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the objective of GEEP is to deepen financial inclusion through provision of loans to market women, traders, artisans, enterprising youths, small scale farmers and agric workers nationwide.

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation works with partner organisations worldwide to tackle critical problems, aimed at helping the world’s poorest people lift themselves out of hunger and poverty.

CGAP is a global partnership of more than 30 leading organisations that seeks to advance financial inclusion and develops innovative solutions through practical research and active engagement with financial service providers, policy makers, and funding organisations to scale up approaches. “We are working in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and CGAP to ensure that we scale up GEEP to the target that the government wants to reach. “Our target is to reach over a million beneficiaries; we are in partnership with them, they would support us so that we can scale up the programme and reach this target. “They are with us at the plank market to see our operations and have an interaction with some of our beneficiaries. “The plank sellers association is one of our beneficiaries; we have disbursed about 1,000 loans to them and we still have about 3,000 queued up on our system,” Adeniji said.

Mr Uzoma Nwagba, Chief Operating Officer, GEEP, said the programme was strengthening its collaboration with foreign and domestic partners, to deepen financial inclusion initiatives in the country.

Nwagba said that GEEP was a direct response of government to the challenge of access to funds, financial inclusion and demonstration of its resolve to fast-track growth and development of micro enterprises.

Dr Abi Jagun, Programme Officer, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said that the outfit was interested in supporting the government in its agenda on financial inclusion. “We are interested in ensuring that poor people, people on low income, have affordable, convenient and secured access to financial services. “We have heard about GEEP and what the Bank of Industry is doing. We came today to learn about what they are doing and part of the learning is to go to the market and speak to people who are receiving it. “The visit helped us not to just to hear from Bank of Industry, the aggregators, but also people who are receiving the loan. “It is a learning opportunity for us to understand what the government is trying to do because we would like to support the government or any government that is trying to improve the lives of the poor and low income earners,” she said.

Alhaji Rafiu Babajide, President, Lagos State Plank and Building Materials Market Association, commended BoI for assisting the association with loans. He said that the association’s 50,000 membership cuts across 120 markets in the state. Babajide urged the bank to fast-track loan processing and disbursement toward boosting business growth.