The Federal Government has set aside a special exclusive fund of N1.6billion for women across the country in a scheme known as the National Women Empowerment Fund (NAWEF).
Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Senator Aisha Alhassan disclosed this during a town hall meeting with women groups in Ibadan on Monday.
The minister is in the Oyo state on a two-day working visit to sensitise the people on the social intervention programmes of the federal government.
She explained that her ministry’s mandate is to cater for the welfare and wellbeing of at least 70 percent of the Nigerian population which includes women, children, the aged, people with disabilities, the vulnerable and distressed persons.
According to her, the social intervention programme of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration stands on five pillars which are:
- Home Grown School Feeding Programme
- Conditional Cash Transfer Programme
- Job Creation Programme called N-Power
- Student Bursary Programme known as STEM
- Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP)
She said that out of the five programmes, the minister said the GEEP is implemented by her ministry in collaboration with the Bank of Industry as the fund administrator.
She explained further that while NAWEF was exclusive for women who are engaged in productive enterprises, GEEP is for both men and women who are artisans, farmers, market women or enterpreneurs engaged in productive enterprise
According to the scheme, each bebeficiary can get between N10,000 to N100,000 as loan which is repayable in one month grace after disbursement, before repayment starts.
The minister said government aim is to reach those who have no income or working capital to undertake productive livelihood.
She warned that the scheme (NAWEF or GEEP) is not for distributing free money or government largess for buying wrappers and other luxury goods adding that “to ensure the sustainability of the programme and to depart from past failed programmes, sanctions have been put in place to deter abuse of the programmes.”
She said: “My ministry is focused on helping business women and female entrepreneurs in Nigeria. We will particularly target those at the grassroot level as this will assist them get the necessary support for overcoming barriers and obstacles to their economic empowerment.
Earlier, while receiving the minister in his office, Governor Abiola Ajimobi expressed optimism that the visit will enable women groups in the state access the fund and open more opportunities for them in the shortest possible time.
Speaking through his deputy, Otunba Moses Adeyemo, Ajimobi assured that women in the state are very enterprising, eager and highly capable of contributing to nation building especially by being in alignment to the change mantra of the present political dispensation.