By Amaechi Agbo
On 7th August this year, the Federal Government commenced the Tradermoni scheme in Lagos.
Tradermoni scheme is designed to help petty traders expand their trade through the provision of collateral free loans of an initial sum of N10,000.
The scheme was launched in partnership with the Bank of Industry, BoI, in order to enlarge government’s financial inclusion agenda down to the grassroots, the bottom of the ladder, considering the contribution of petty traders to economic development of any nation. It is a federal government empowerment scheme to help alleviate poverty in Nigeria by empowering traders and artisans.
Tradermoni is similar to MarketMoni which is another cash transfer loan scheme of the the Federal Government under the same Social Investment Programmes, but they are not the same. While Marketmoni loans start at N50, 000 and target medium-scale traders, market women, artisans, and youth in market associations. Tradermoni loans on the other hand starts at N10, 000 and target petty traders and petty artisans.
There have been lots of misconceptions with people questioning what the petty traders can do with N10,000. But one cannot wish away the impact it will have on the fufu seller on the street whose capital is N3,000. As little as it seems, an added sum of N10,000 to her capital would lead to her expanding her business and serving more customers.
To an average income earner, N10,000 does not sound so big a money to help in business but to the rural traders, it is not so. N10,000 will make a significant impact in the business of the roadside corn seller, akara (fried bean) seller. The ugu (pumpkin) seller as well as the groundnut, garri, shoe maker/reparier, beans and all other petty traders who are the beneficiaries of this scheme.
These loans come from a recognition of the genuine contribution of petty traders to the growth of the nation’s economy. Consequently the loan will not only help the local traders to expand their businesses, but also change their standards of living thus aiding in poverty alleviation and stability in the country’s economic outlook.
This programme aims at reducing short-term poverty by direct cash transfers and fight long-term poverty by increasing human capital among the poor through conditional cash transfers.
Under the scheme, beneficiaries can get access to a higher facility ranging from N15,000 to N50,000 when they repay the initial N10, 000 within the stipulated time period of 6 months. Accordingly, beneficiaries have the options to repay the loan with flexible options of N85 daily or N430 weekly.
Since coming into power via his change mantra, President Mohammadu Buhari has never hidden his desire to change the economic well-being and welfare of the poorest Nigerians – the masses. Access to credit to help boost the output of their petty businesses has proven to be one route he has taken in providing succour to Nigeria’s lowest income earners.
The Vice – President Yemi Osinbajo over the week told beneficiaries of the Tradermoni loan scheme in Gbagi Market, Ibadan, Oyo state, that more funds would be committed to the scheme as soon as the traders begin to pay back. This emphasises the need for the sustainability of the programme, which in itself can only be sustained through the collective efforts of the traders – simply paying back the small loans they have collected.
Tradermoni scheme is not only a justification of the current Federal Government’s unrelenting drive to take Nigerians away from the clutches of poverty but also a determined initiative to ensure that government reaches out to the unreached, and create a more equitable society.
The scheme has been implemented, successfully, in 10 states so far. These states are: Lagos (the pilot state) which was launched on August 7, Kano state kicked off on August 18, 20th of August saw Abia state integrated into the scheme while Akwa Ibom was on 21st of August.
Katsina got into the initiative for the take off of the scheme in the state on September 1st; Osun, Kogi, Cross River and Oyo states kick started the scheme on 3rd, 8th, 11th and 13th of September, respectively. The programme was also launched in the Federal Capital Territory on the 6th of September at the Utako Market.
With the scheme currently being implemented in 10 states, including the Federal Capital Territory, the Vice- President, as part of his outreach in ensuring a smooth and successful implementation of the free loan scheme, visited the market in Ibadan to assess how the loan was being executed and to ensure that all registered traders got the money.
It is unfortunate that there are Microfinance banks in the country which invariably are saddled with the responsibility of granting or providing loans to small traders but have made their interest rates so high that no low income trader would dare consider. This initiative by the Buhari administration helps close the gap.
The intention of the programme is to reach all 36 States of the country and the FCT. It has started on a remarkable note and can only get better. Testimonies from some of the beneficiaries have already filled the media space – attesting to the impact it has made in their little businesses. The testimonies resound what ought to be: government should be for not just the elites, but the lowest cadre of society. And this is what the Buhari administration is achieving with the TraderMoni initiative.
Amaechi Agbo is a public affairs analyst based in Abuja