ABUJA, DECEMBER 1, 2016 – N1.6 billion has been set aside by The Federal Government from the Government Enterprise Empowerment Fund (GEEP) to empower women and young girls monthly in eight states across the country.
Hajiya Aisha Alhassan, Minister of Women Affairs, disclosed this during a one-day advocacy and sensitisation visit on Thursday in Minna.
She said that the empowerment would provide micro-credit loans, especially for women in rural areas to develop their skills and become self-reliant.
“The scheme will be piloted in eight states for a start and will target about 10,000 women beneficiaries per state.
“Three states from North East and one state selected from each of the remaining five geo-political zones of the country. And already, the empowerment and training programmes have commenced in Niger State,” she said.
Alhassan said that N200 million would be disbursed to the states through registered cooperatives, local trade associations and other community based groups.
He added that the beneficiaries would be given N100,000 loan repayable within six months.
She said that the loan would be disbursed directly to beneficiaries’ bank account through local banks and money agents to reach remote areas with no banking facilities.
She added that the loan would also be interest free without collateral and that only five per cent would be charged to cover bank expenses and administering the funds.
The minister, however, urged women to key into the initiative, to free themselves from poverty and rebuild the country’s economy.
Similarly, Gov. Abubakar Bello of Niger commended the Federal Government’s effort at empowering women and girls, adding that such step would make them financially free and contribute to the nation’s economy.
Bello, who was represented by his Deputy, Alhaji Ahmed Ketso, noted that government had made provision in the 2017 budget to give priority to women and youth empowerment.
Mrs Roseline, Abara, the state Commissioner for Women Affairs, urged women to take advantage of the programme to empower themselves and improve their lots.