Launch Of Bank Of Industry ‘Aid For Productivity’ Report On 24/01/2022

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Video Transcript





In 2018,  while I was visiting the Abubakar Gumi Market in Kaduna to launch the TraderMoni programme, one of our Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme in the State, I met a gentleman, Jafar Abubakar, who at the time, was trading in ginger and garlic and was one of 5,000 or so traders who had just received ₦10,000.00 microcredit to advance his business in that market. TraderMoni is one of the schemes in our Social Investment Programme where we loaned small amounts of money to informal traders.


What struck me was what he said about how he was selected to get the credit. He said “I just applied, Sir. I didn’t know anybody. They came here and captured my data last week and I got the alert yesterday.” He then showed me the alert on his phone. Stories like Jafar’s have become all too familiar over these years. It is a consistent tune I hear as I engage with beneficiaries of our intervention programmes. I am sure many who worked in the field on the intervention programmes experienced the same sorts of reactions.


This is perhaps for me one of the most satisfying things about the way our social intervention schemes and several others on behalf of MSMEs work. That there is a platform that can process applications from potential beneficiaries, payout credits or other benefits, maintain auditable records seamlessly. It is those people and infrastructure that make this happen that we are celebrating today.


This is a journey that only began as an idea 6 years ago; an idea that we can build systems that will serve everybody fairly and justly and bring credibility to government programmes. One of the biggest barriers we identified was the ability to reach people directly, capture and digitize their information (even if they are illiterate) and process a benefit to them directly in a way that is transparent to all. Our vision set out to solve this problem.


That bold vision was expressed in the most ambitious social intervention project in Nigeria’s recent history, with a series of people-centric programmes. For some programmes, the everyday Nigerians were young graduates who would benefit from a direct stipend and employment placement from the government. For others, it would be pupils for whom a reliable meal per day would make the difference between staying enrolled in school or skipping school to earn money for that meal. However, a critical sector of the hardworking Nigerians we sought to impact was the micro, small and medium enterprises. This group had been left far behind historically, and the path to reach them was even less figured out. Most of these businesses are informal and yet account for close to 50% of our GDP and 76% of our labour force. This demographic was far too important to ignore. We had to start solving for them.


Today, we witness the successes of a long and ambitious journey targeting and impacting MSMEs with interventions. The results have far exceeded even what we envisioned. The infrastructure and processes that have been built to achieve this are nothing short of remarkable.


People wonder what we did differently this time. One of the key decisions we made was to give the free hand to an institution with a track record, the Bank of Industry in this case, as well as a team of competent and experienced Nigerian professionals to understand and solve this problem. The question was, how do you solve this big problem of getting credit and services to millions of people in far-flung areas of Nigeria? We thought the best idea was to give the problem to professionals to think through on how to deal with it and BOI was that organization we gave the problem to. Today, what we have is BOI’s Growth Platform, Africa’s largest infrastructure for direct interventions to MSMEs.


A lot of you would know of the household-name programmes of the Government that have targeted enterprises of different scales. The programmes range from the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP), the World Bank NG-CARES programme, MSME Survival Fund, the North-East Rehabilitation Fund and state-based interventions to name a few.


What might not be as obvious is the extent of the Growth Platform’s operations; the engine and the nationwide field infrastructure that has been responsible for driving these programmes credibly and delivering the results in a manner that is direct, trackable and transparent.


What might also not be obvious is the sheer scale of impact that has been achieved with these programmes. Today, over four million micro, small and medium enterprises have been direct beneficiaries of the over N150 billion deployed in the past five years. 57% of these MSMEs are owned by Nigerians below 35 years of age, and close to 60% of the beneficiaries are women. What is even less glaring is that the team of Nigerian professionals behind this work is largely young, with an average age of 28 years old.


I have visited the Growth Platform’s Command Centre at the Bank of Industry, and what I saw was unprecedented. There are now 22,000 agents, living across all LGAs in Nigeria and equipped with its proprietary mobile technologies, they receive mandates to capture and digitize businesses eligible for its growing suite of programmes. In some cases, these agents (or “human banks” as they are sometimes called) open the first-ever bank account or mobile wallet used by the microenterprises. Every detail of each business is trackable centrally at the Bank of Industry, down to biodata, geolocation, images and facial IDs of every micro, small and medium entrepreneur where applicable.


This has greatly simplified the profiling and decision-making processes that have allowed for direct outreach and impact on Nigerian MSMEs at a tremendous scale. And this is being done with entirely home-grown solutions and an ecosystem of institutions, donor partners, service providers and technology companies in Nigeria.


Like every country in the world, Nigeria faces its own peculiar set of challenges. These challenges sometimes becloud the tremendous progress we make across a wide range of sectors, and the fact that we are fast-moving forward in building home-grown solutions that make the government more directly accountable, beneficial, and transparent to its people.


I am delighted to be celebrating another such example that commenced with the Federal Government and has since taken a life of its own. The Growth Platform today serves a broad range of institutions beyond the government, supporting them to execute huge programmes for the benefit of the Nigerian people. Some of these institutions include the World Bank and the African Development Bank.


While what we are witnessing today is impressive for sure, it should not be surprising. The Growth Platform is precisely who we are. This is the story of the Nigerian can-do spirit, and the entrepreneurial DNA we carry. This is a shining case study of what President Muhammadu Buhari strongly believes: that Nigerians will solve Nigeria’s problems. This is an example of what we can achieve when we unleash the best of our people – especially our young – on the toughest of our challenges, and give them the free hand to deliver results.


I must commend the Managing Director of the Bank of Industry, Mr. Olukayode Pitan, for being the strongest enabler of this work and under whose watch these results have been produced.


Specifically, I must applaud the Growth Platform team at BOI, led by Mrs Toyin Adeniji, Executive Director at the bank, with Uzoma Nwagba as its Chief Operating Officer.


Aptly, Toyin and Uzoma are the co-authors of the “Aid for Productivity” report we are launching today, as what better people to tell a story than the individuals in the trenches creating it. They have brought to bear the best of experience and bold thinking, the depths of innovation and youth, and a detailed understanding of the Nigerian spirit, to build an operation and impact that has become a national pride. We have heard of the various awards this Growth Platform has won in the past couple of years.


The over four million micro, small and medium enterprises impacted to date, and the several more to come, are a direct testament to their hard work.


Finally, I must acknowledge the pioneering partners of the Growth Platform on this journey of Aid for Productivity. Of particular note is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which provided the much-needed early support to the Bank of Industry to build out this operation and prepare for scale, even when its potential would have been unclear at that time to most people. Thank you for your continued commitment to Nigeria.


To the Nigerian financial institutions, technology companies, service providers and programme partners who have given the best of their expertise to this work over the years, we applaud you and thank you for your commitment that has enabled this Growth Platform not just to be built but to thrive the way it has been thriving.


Then I must also commend the Honourable Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, and his Ministry for the great work they have done in the past few years, not just in nurturing the Bank of Industry and all these great efforts, but the Survival Funds and other great intervention programmes that have been managed so expertly by him and the Ministry of Industry, Trae and Investment.


Thank you very much and God bless you all, and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.