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120,573 people from Oyo state have benefitted from the Federal Government Social Investment programme as the Federal Government through the Minster of Women Affairs and Social Development has announced the setting aside a special exclusive fund of N1.6billion for women across the country in a scheme known as the National Women Empowerment Fund (NAWEF).
The governor of the state, Senator Abiola Ajimobi made this disclosure on Monday during the advocacy and sensitization visit on Government Enterprises and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) and National Women Empowerment Fund (NAWEF) programmes by the Honourable Minister for Women Affairs and Social Development, Senator Aisha Jummai Alhassan held at the House of Chiefs, Secretariat in Ibadan.
Ajimobi, represented by his deputy, Otunba Moses Adeyemo, explained that the Home Grown School Feeding Programme which commenced in January 2017 has 107,983 pupils as beneficiaries while 1,372 vendors and 1,300 schools are also benefitting, adding that 9,573 individuals have benefitted from the N-Power project which is the job creation and empowerment initiative and 3,017 have enjoyed the National Cash Transfer project designed to give each poor and vulnerable household a monthly Cash Transfer of N5,000.00.
He noted that the state has left no stone unturned to ensure that the socio-economic development of women in the State is enhanced in order to ensure their well-being, adding that the state government has collaborated with the banking sector to assist women in their small medium enterprises by creating access to soft loans that will lead to growth and expansion of their businesses.
According to him, the interest of women and children are protected in the state through the speedy passage of “Violence against Women” (VAW) Law 2016, stressing that women of Oyo 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.
In her address, the Minister for Women Affairs and Social Development, Senator Aisha Jummai Alhassan said that the main objectives of Government Enterprises and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) and National Women Empowerment Fund (NAWEF) programs are to provide micro-credit loans to men and women, to reduce poverty among rural dwellers, especially women and to provide skills development, training and business support as well as assisting in the building of the economies of rural areas through financial inclusion.
She stated that beneficiaries of GEEP and NAWEF are entitled to get between N10, 000 to N100, 000 as loans, which is repayable in 6months with one month grace after disbursement, noting that the loans are interest free and no collateral is required but there is an administrative charge of 5% which is to cover the banks’ expenses for administering the funds.
Senator Alhassan added that GEEP and NAWEF will build strong partnerships among the Federal Ministry, States’ Ministries of Women Affairs, the Bank of Industry (BOI) and development partners such as World Bank, African Development Bank, Un Women, UNIDO and others to provide solid platform for the implementation of these programmes.
The Minister further said that the Ministry and development partners are making arrangements to provide Financial Literacy and Skills Training to beneficiaries as well as set up Women Business Advisory Centres to help women to better manage the loans and their businesses.
In her welcome address, the State Commissioner for Women Affairs, Community Development, Social Development and Poverty Alleviation, Mrs Atinuke Osunkoya said that women in the state are sensitized on the need to access and utilize the funds to empower and improve their economic ventures as well as wealth creation.