Wednesday, 07 April 2021 02:14

BOI Tasks Stakeholders On Solutions To Vulnerable Groups In Informal Sector

The Bank of Industry (BOI), has called on stakeholders for a stronger Public-Private Partnership (PPP) to proffer lasting solutions for vulnerable groups in the informal sector. 

Toyin Adeniji , the Executive Director of the Bank of Industry, stated that the joint efforts and partnerships between the government and private sector players will help to proffer lasting solutions for the vulnerable groups in the Nigerian informal sector. 

She made this statement during a conversation between key industry players and the media on ways to secure the Nigerian informal economy amidst a post-COVID reality. 
Adeniji highlighted key interventions by the Bank of Industry, especially through the Government’s Economic Empowerment Program (GEEP) initiative, a channel created for effective targeting of some of these interventions. 
She stressed that the government in an effort to ward off the economic impact of the pandemic on vulnerable business owners in the informal sector reduced interest rates by at least 2%. 
According to her, the government also expanded the reach of its services through its technology platform to onboard additional micro-enterprises to benefit from the BOI initiatives. 

“While survival funds, artisan grants are still being disbursed, micro-enterprises received payroll support and guaranteed off take support from the government”, she said. 

She stressed that more collaborative efforts by the government and private sector will help in reaching out to more people and vulnerable Nigerians in the country. 

Adeniji also stressed the need to embrace digitisation to drive key solutions as the pandemic revealed in no small way the very important role of technology in creating an inclusive economy. 

Ms Tomi Adejana, the Chief Executive Officer of Bankly, explained that stakeholders must leverage key determinants which include digitisation, collaboration and data to fully secure the informal sector, post-COVID-19. 

Adejana called on the government and the private sector to continuously educate participants in the informal sector on how to build resilient financial buffers to withstand future shocks and also avoid loan sharks with predatory interest rates that drive the cycle of poverty for the vulnerable ones in the society. 

Dr Godwin Ehigiamusoe, Former CEO, LAPO Microfinance Bank, who spoke on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the vulnerable people in the society, explained that the pandemic was more of an economic crisis than a health crisis, looking at its impact on poor people and owners of microenterprises. 

Ehigiamusoe explained that many micro-enterprises closed down as a result of the impact of the pandemic, while those that survived are still struggling and underperforming. 

According to him, it is now more pertinent than ever to institutionalise programmes that have worked, so that the informal sector can actually start to build wealth and grow, rather than look to it as a fallback for hard times. He added that these programmes would allow efforts to scale beyond business credits, over to areas that require huge expenditure from lean financial resources by households at the bottom of the pyramid, like micro-insurance for healthcare and educational support. 

Ehigiamusoe advised that private sector-led social interventions should be encouraged to create direct supply linkages and collaborations with micro-enterprises as well as a consideration of the concept of social business as a way to reduce poverty rates and improve economic outcomes. 

Onyeka Akpaida, Chief Impact Officer, Rendra Foundation, explained that the pandemic exacerbated pre-existing gender inequalities and vulnerabilities including gender pay gaps, access to finances, education and resources, as many women-owned businesses experienced closures and drops in income levels thereby affecting their ability to support their families.

Onyeka noted that the interests and peculiarities of the informal sector are not well represented in policy formulation while existing policies are not well implemented. 





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