By Nse Anthony-Uko
(Sundiata Finance) — The Bank of Industry (BoI) has unveiled interest-free loans for women artisans, market women and small holder farmers under the National Women Empowerment Fund (NAWEF) intervention scheme by the Federal Government.
According to the bank, NAWEF is an aspect of the Federal Government’s Social Investment (Intervention) Programme which is designed exclusively for women and administered by BoI to issue interest free loans to successful applicants.
Speaking at the unveiling of the pilot phase for the disbursement of the Fund in Uyo , the Minister for Women Affairs and Social Development, Sen. Aisha Jummai Alhassan, stated that eight states, including Akwa Ibom, Adamawa, Borno, Yobe, Osun, Abia, Nasarawa and Jigawa have been selected for the pilot phase where women can access N200 million in loans (starting from N10,000 to N100,000).
To enhance the success of the intervention exercise, Alhassan emphasised the need to collaborate with state ministries to enhance participation of women. She said “Statistics have shown that women are mostly involved in the agric value chain as small holder farmers. Government decided to intervene in the area of provision of access to markets for their produce.
The Social Investment Intervention Programme is hinged on five pillars. Four of the pillars of the programme have taken off. The fifth one is underway. The intervention exercise has increased enrolment of the girl-child in school and empowered many women” he said.
Speaking on NAWEF, senior manager, Micro enterprises, BoI, Aisha Abdullahi explained that the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) is exactly like NAWEF, adding that NAWEF is only for women unlike GEEP where both men and women can benefit from it.
“The reason for this difference is to ensure that more women have access to interventions in order not to be crowded out by men. GEEP has already started and the verification process is like that of NAWEF. You fill a form and submit through BoI office or state ministry of women affairs and those forms will be sent to us. Agents will contact you for verification and you will pay back in six months if the application is successful”, she added.
Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Welfare, Akwa Ibom state, Dr. Glory Emmanuel Edet urged prospective beneficiaries of the fund to utilise it judiciously as the loan is a revolving one.
“The Minister’s visit to Uyo is to sensitise women on the benefits of the NAWEF programme as the state is one of the eight pilot states selected to kick-start the intervention programme. The intervention programme aligns with that of the state government and would help to empower women out of poverty”, Edet added.