Sterling Bank Plc has said its partnership with the Bank of Industry (BOI) for the pilot phase of the N140 billion said Government Enterprise Empowerment Program (GEEP) would bring succour to micro business owners – market women, traders, artisans and farmers.
The programme according to ThisDay is targeted at over 16 million beneficiaries in order to foster financial inclusion and economic activity at the micro level.
In a statement, the bank explained that its appointment into the GEEP may have been informed by its commitment in serving this segment of the population via its agent banking scheme.
Agent banking is a process of providing limited scale banking and financial services to the underserved population through engaged agents under a valid agency agreement, rather than a teller/ cashier. It is the owner of an outlet who conducts banking transactions on behalf of a bank.
Under the pilot phase, Sterling Bank would disburse loans ranging from N10,000 to N100,000 per beneficiary covering up to 15,000 beneficiaries. Target beneficiaries include market sellers and traders, artisans, enterprising youths and farmers.
Sterling Bank had in 2014 inaugurated its financial inclusion and agent banking initiative at Makoko, a Lagos suburb. The bank also currently runs a national medium, small, micro enterprise (MSME) Academy where small business owners are equipped on how best to manage their business successfully.
The statement, which confirmed that disbursement had commenced, added that the introduction of the mobile agent banking scheme using the BankOne solution provided by Appzone would facilitate easy disbursement of the fund to the beneficiaries.
“We will also be leveraging on our agent network outreach, robust technology solution and the scalability of its operational scope,” the bank added.
The bank explains how it works: “The fund is being provided by BOI and a collection account has been opened for BOI with the bank. BOI, through selected aggregators, enumerates beneficiaries from pre-registered market or trade associations in selected locations across the nation based on set qualifying criteria.
“The list of successful beneficiaries is sent to the bank and our agents will open accounts for them via our mobile agent banking application. A loan request is logged on the Credit Assessment system and successful requests are submitted to BOI for approval for disbursement. BOI will therefore advise with the list of beneficiaries approved to receive the loans based on set criteria and bear all financial liability associated with the loans issued under this scheme.”
Posted by Juliet Ekwebelam