Zisk Global, ECOSOCC to disburse N800m interest-free loan to women

May 31, 2021
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In an effort to cushion the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic to small scale businesses, a group, Zisk Global Advisory Ltd (ZISK) in collaboration with Africa Union Economic Social and Cultural Council (AU ECOSOCC) Nigeria have concluded plans to kick off its post-COVID-19 initiative tagged ‘Post COVID-19 Market Women Empowerment (PMWE).

Addressing a virtual press conference on Monday, Chief Executive Officer of Zisk Global Advisory Ltd, Lanre Oni, said the PMWE program is an economic responsibility initiative targeted at empowering petty traders with a zero-interest soft loan and with a friendly repayment plan spread within a period of 12 weeks.

He said the initiative was made possible due to its partnership with several organisations including the African Union ECOSOCC Nigeria Chapter, and by extension, TAI TA Communications.

Oni, who is an Advisor to African Union Ecosocc Nigeria on Economic development and partnerships, explained that beneficiaries will be able to access funds between N30,000 to N200,000, adding that it would not be limited to any tribe or religion, and strictly for petty traders.

“Our aim is to complement the efforts of the government on economic recovery from the impact of COVID-19 by reviving petty trader businesses in Nigeria, promoting financial inclusion, reduce Unemployment and alleviate poverty.

“Our target audience is the daily petty traders and artisans within the market or around the street, selling pepper, cassava flakes (gari), tofu, food, sachet or bottled water, vegetables, Onions, fruits, fried yam and beans cake (Akara), clothes, groceries, etc.

“This empowerment is a soft loan, which we expect that the beneficiaries will return either on a weekly or monthly basis within a period of 4 to 12 weeks,” Oni said.

He said beneficiaries will only be able to access the soft loan if they are members of any of the partnering organisations, while Zenith Bank is the official financial institution for the initiative expected to disburse the loans and train the market women on financial literacy.

According to Oni, the long-term plan is to reach out to one million market women in Nigeria with at least a budgeted N800million expected to be disbursed in the first batch.

“This is a country of over 200 million people. The best we can do is to start from somewhere. 1 million market women in Nigeria. The loan will be coming in batches. We cannot give everyone at once. The first batch is 800 million for this first batch. As time goes on, our target of 1million market women will be attained. If we can achieve that we know it will go a long way.

“We have a structure; it is a structure of civil societies that are well known. They have members and for you to be qualified, you have to be a member of this organisation.

We have been able to structure out the plan to ensure we have monitoring units because we foresee the challenge of repayment, nevertheless, we want to sustain the programme. We want to achieve a 99 percent recovery of the loan. We believe that only members of the association will be allowed to be beneficiaries. People will be decided by their leaders and they have supervisors who will monitor them,” he said.

Also speaking at the meeting, Nigerian Representative, 3rd permanent General Assembly of the African Union ECOSOCC, Oba-Olasunkanmi John said they are fully backing the PMWE as it was in line with its agenda for the next decade.

“One of the major programmes we are working to implement is the Agenda 2063 of the AU. It talks about an Africa where citizens are given the right to develop.

“This project falls under the African Women Decade of Economy and Financial Inclusion that was launched in Nigeria recently with the support of President Muhammadu Buhari. We are mobilizing other organisations to help ensure that women on the last rung of the ladder are supported.

“We are in total support and we are giving our backings to some of our organisations that are already participating. Let us see this as it is, it is an empowerment programme, so that we can move one million women out of poverty,” he said.

Also speaking, Ambassador of Ooni of Ife in Brazil, Mr Ajoyemi Osunleye, said over 1000 new agent banking service providers have been empowered via the Z-Money platform of Zenith Bank Plc and other agencies banking platforms.

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