Toyin Adeniji, Executive Director, Micro Enterprise, Bank of Industry (BOI), has said that 37 million Nigerians are commercially active but have never had the opportunity to access loans.
Mrs Adeniji made the fact known in Abuja on Friday when she briefed journalists on federal government empowerment programmes under the supervision of BOI.
She said the commercially active people, who were at the base of the pyramid, included traders, artisans, farmers, petty traders, among others.
She said data from National Bureau of Statistics and Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) report revealed the situation.
According to her, the group constitutes the highest per cent of the country’s workforce.
“According to the report, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) employ 84 per cent of labour force, contribute 50 per cent to our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and some also contribute seven per cent of our total exports as a country.
“However, despite their contributions to national development, these businesses often do not have access to the capital they need to grow.
“Of all the bank loans given in the last five years in Nigeria, less than one per cent has gone to this segment.
“These are understandably so because these groups, while extremely hardworking, have little or no financial track record.
“They have no collateral and some barely have formal identities, “she said.
Mrs Adeniji said that the Federal Government in 2016 introduced Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) to support and encourage the people to continue with their contributions to economic development.
She said that GEEP was developed for the over 37 million Nigerians at the base of the pyramid.
“GEEP is a microcredit scheme and therefore, the more commercial of the social interventions of the Federal Government,” said.
According to her, many Nigerians at the base of the pyramid such as traders, farmers, tricycle riders and artisans, have benefited from GEEP loans.
The director added that the conditions for accessing loans were not as stringent as those of the commercial banks.
“The conditions include possession of a Bank Verification Number (BVN) and a membership of a certified market association or cooperative society among others,” she said.