The Buhari administration’s multiple social intervention initiatives, in addition to giving interest-free microcredit loans to tiny traders, have had a substantial impact on the lives of millions of ordinary Nigerians.
In order to accelerate economic growth, the administration has increased support for the Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) sector, which accounts for about half of Nigeria’s GDP and employs 76 percent of the country’s workforce.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, made this point in his keynote address at the Bank of Industry’s (BOI) Aid for Productivity report launch on Monday. The report chronicled the development, impact, and future of the BOI’s Growth Platform, which is the human and technological infrastructure that drives multiple large-scale intervention programmes for micro, small, and medium enterprises.
More importantly, the VP stated that the BOI Growth Platform’s success was the result of “the Nigerian can-do spirit and the entrepreneurial DNA we carry.”
“This is a shining case study of what President Muhammadu Buhari strongly believes: that Nigerians will solve Nigeria’s problems. This is an example of what we can achieve when we unleash the best of our people – especially our young – on the toughest of our challenges, and give them the free-hand to deliver results,” he added.
The BOI Growth Platform includes, among other things, the renowned Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) loans (MarketMoni, FarmerMoni, and TraderMoni) – Africa’s largest fully-digitized micro-credit scheme, the MSME Survival Fund under the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP), the North-East Rehabilitation Fund, the recently launched World Bank $750 million NG-CARES program, and state-based interventions.
As the VP stated, “this demographic was far too important to ignore. We had to start solving for them, especially having been left far behind historically,” a reason he noted led to the implementation of intervention schemes through the BOI’s Growth Platform for MSMEs.
“What might also not be obvious is the sheer scale of impact that has been achieved with these programmes, as over four million Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises have been direct beneficiaries of the over N150billion deployed in the past five years,” the VP said.
He added that, “57% of these MSMEs are owned by Nigerians below 35 years of age, and close to 60% of the beneficiaries are women. What is even less glaring is that the team of Nigerian professionals behind this work is largely young, with an average age of 28 years old.”
Prof. Osinbajo recalled his interaction with a petty trader, Jafar Abubakar, one of the Tradermoni beneficiaries at Abubakar Gumi Market in Kaduna in 2018 when he visited to launch the scheme in the State, highlighting the transparency and impact of these microcredit schemes, particularly the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP loans – MarketMoni, FarmerMoni, and TraderMoni) under the SIPs.
He narrated: “Jafar Abubakar, who trades in ginger and garlic was one of 5,000 or so traders who had just received ₦10,000 to advance his business in that market. What struck me was what he said about how he was selected to get the credit.
“He said ‘i just applied. I didn’t know anybody. They came here and captured my data last week and I got the alert yesterday.’”
The VP added that Jafar then “showed me the alert on his phone. Stories like Jafar’s have become all too familiar to me over these years. It is a consistent tune I hear as I engage thousands of beneficiaries of our intervention programmes.”
Indeed, the TraderMoni initiative, which offers petty traders N10,000 interest-free and collateral-free loans if they have an inventory of less than N5,000, has had a major positive impact across the country. This involves assisting people with their small companies, better their families, and participating to the informal economy.
“This is perhaps for me one of the most satisfying things about the way our social intervention schemes are deployed. That there is a platform that can process applications from potential beneficiaries, payout credits or other benefits, maintain auditable records seamlessly. It is those people and infrastructure that make this happen that we are celebrating today,” Prof. Osinbajo noted.
The Vice President also emphasized the Administration’s Social Investment Programs’ countrywide impact, which he said was “most ambitious social intervention project in Nigeria’s recent history, with a series of people-centric programmes.”
“This is a journey that only began as an idea 6 years ago: that we can build systems that will serve everybody fairly and justly and bring credibility to government programmes. One of the biggest barriers we identified was the ability to reach people directly, capture and digitize their information (even if they are illiterate) and process a benefit to them directly in a way that is transparent to all. Our vision set out to solve this.”
“For some programmes, the everyday Nigerians were young graduates who would benefit from a direct stipend and employment placement from the government. For others, it would be pupils for whom a reliable meal per day would make the difference between staying enrolled in school or skipping school to earn money for that meal.”
Prof. Osinbajo also lauded the BOI Growth Platform projects’ infrastructure and transparency. He recalled, for example, his visit to the Growth Platform’s Command Centre, which currently has “22,000 agents, living across all LGAs in Nigeria and equipped with its proprietary mobile technologies, receive mandates to capture and digitize businesses eligible for its growing suite of programmes.”
He observed that “every detail of each business is trackable centrally at the Bank of Industry, down to biodata, geolocation, images and facial IDs of every micro, small and medium entrepreneur where applicable.”
“This has greatly simplified the profiling and decision-making processes that have allowed for direct outreach and impact on Nigerian MSMEs at tremendous scale. And this is being done with entirely home-grown solutions and an ecosystem of institutions, donor partners, service providers and technology companies in Nigeria.”
The Vice President also praised the Bank of Industry’s Managing Director, Mr. Olukayode Pitan, as well as the BOI Growth Platform team, led by Toyin Adeniji, Executive Director, BOI, and Uzoma Nwagba, Chief Operating Officer.
The “Aid for Productivity” study, which Adeniji and Nwagba formally presented during the event, is co-authored by them.
The VP also praised early supporters, particularly the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, for providing critical early assistance to the Bank of Industry in order to help it grow to its current size.