Osinbajo highlights nationwide impact of Nigeria’s social investment programmes

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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has highlighted the nationwide impact of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s dministration’s Social Investment Programmes, which he noted was the “most ambitious social intervention project in Nigeria’s recent history, with a series of people-centric programmes.

This was the summation of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, in his keynote address on Monday at the Bank of Industry (BOI) Aid for Productivity report launch, which chronicled the development, impact, and future of the BOI’s Growth Platform, which is the human and technology infrastructure used to drive multiple large-scale intervention programmes for micro, small and medium enterprises.

The BOI Growth Platform includes interventions schemes such as the renowned Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) loans (MarketMoni, FarmerMoni and TraderMoni) – regarded as 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 $750million NG-CARES programme, and state-based interventions, among others.

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“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 N150 billion 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.”

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, Prof. Osinbajo recalled his interaction in 2018 with a petty trader, Jafar Abubakar, one of the Tradermoni beneficiaries at Abubakar Gumi Market in Kaduna when he visited to launch the scheme in the State.

He said the TraderMoni scheme, which provides N10,000 interest-free & collateral-free loans to petty traders, mostly with an inventory of less than N5,000, had made a huge positive impact nationwide. This includes enhancing the small businesses of beneficiaries, improving their families and contributing 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.

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“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 praised the infrastructure and transparency behind the BOI Growth Platform schemes. For instance, he recalled his visit to the Growth Platform’s Command Centre, which now 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.”

The VP also applauded pioneering partners, particularly the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for providing the much-needed early support to the Bank of Industry to build this operation to the large scale it is now.

In his remarks, the BOI Managing Director, Mr. Olukayode Pitan, restated the impact of its programmes, noting how programmes such as GEEP have won several local and international awards, including the award at the 2019 African Bankers’ Awards as the most impactful Financial Inclusion program in Africa

Prof. Osinbajo also commended the commitment of Nigerian financial institutions, technology companies, service providers and programme partners who he said “have given the best of their expertise to this work over the years.”