The recently introduced loan scheme,christened “Okowo Dapo”, by the present administration in Ogun State for petty traders can be described as a timely intervention that posterity will continue to celebrate.
The interest-free loan scheme which is the brainchild of the Prince Dapo Abiodun led government is specially designed for female traders with the aim of promoting small businesses across the length and breadth of the Gateway State.
It is interesting to note that no fewer than 2,000 women benefitted from the scheme on the day it was formally launched while many other applicants are hoping receiving theirs in due course.
Of a truth, an initiative of this nature would alleviate the pains traders go through in accessing bank loans and quite a number of other loans that are very callous to womanhood. Many of these strange loans schemes had in recent past sent women to untimely graves,leaving their children in further pain of motherlessness and abject poverty.
In addition, the petty traders are in no small measure among the forgotten class of the society but their roles in the economic life of a state and nation cannot be overemphasized since they make up a large chunk of the society.
Pathetically, they have over the years been given little or no attention which had gravely affected the economy of the nation at large. Funny enough, develop nations that recognise the power of MSMEs have effectively harnessed it to achieve great things .
Across the globe, women and children are the most vulnerable to attacks and economic hardship. It is, therefore incontestible that many of these petty traders are the bread winners in their various homes. In this part of the world, we have women who are into full time farming,trade and many menial jobs in order to keep the family going. In spite of the challenges occasioned by lean purse and meager opportunities, a number of women remain dogged in their pursuit of academic excellence for their children and they are giving it all it takes to give education to their kids. This makes the business which is the mainstay of the family to suffer. Hence,the need to make a proactive plan such as this Okowo Dapo is a right step in the right direction.
The Oko’Wo Dapo initiative which is devoid of political undertone and bureaucratic bottlenecks will go a long way in enhancing Micro, Small and Medium scale Enterprises. It will thus make petty traders to be self-reliant without having to continue to depend on family and friends for daily needs. It will also afford them the opportunity to create wealth on their own.
The launch of the initiative which was part of the activities used to commemorate Governor Dapo Abiodun’s 100 days in office, was received with warmth by the traders and their various associations as they described it as an answer to their age-long prayers.
Good enough, Governor Abiodun used the occasion to inform the people that the scheme was one of the very many to come as his administration would remain committed to improving the dignity of human life as well as creating an enabling environment for business to thrive.
“Our women should not see Okowo Dapo as their own share of the national cake but they should see it as an economic avenue through which they would be gainfully employed,improve their productivity, increase their income level and also become employers of labour,” the Governor informed.
The State’s helmsman who further hinted that the loan was not a dash neither was it another form of stomach infrastructure effort to impoverish the residents, said that if well utilised, the beneficiaries will have access to higher amount.
The Remo Prince added that the economic empowerment Initiative was the demonstration of the commitment of the present administration to make life more meaningful for the people and such that will encourage private sector partnership with the State in its “Building our Future Together” agenda.
Without doubt, going by the form this Oko’Wo Dapo is expected to take, the need for transparency on the part of the traders should not be something that will give the government a sleepless night. One good turn,they say, deserves another.
It is,therefore, incumbent on the beneficiaries to encourage the government to do more through transparency and accountability.
Fortunately, Prince Abiodun, being a serial enterprenuer knows what it takes to start from the scratch while the individual has a big picture in mind. As such, a petty traders of today has a mentor in the Governor who has enough capacity to be a model of hope to all and sundry who has interest in going far in business.
Also, it will not be out of place if the private sector sees this idea as an opportunity to leverage on without waiting for a perfect weather. Obviously, if the Ogun State Government could go as far as giving interest-free loan to boost MSMEs, then the hope of this sector is brighter than ever.
In the words of Brian Hill, the foremost author of bestsellers on economy, “MSMEs, or small- to medium-size enterprises, have advantages that big companies don’t. SMEs are the quick, smart mammals among the behemoth big company dinosaurs.”
He added that, “SMSMEs often become actively involved in the community, because they view themselves as members of the community and care about the people who live there. Big companies are more independent of the community, especially if it’s a branch or division of the big company rather than the home office. Big companies have little compunction about moving to another city if it makes sense financially.”
Femi Onasanya wrote from Ogun State Ministry of Information,Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta via firstname.lastname@example.org (08036170135)