The Executive Director, Micro Enterprise, Bank of Industry (BOI), Toyin Adeniji said about 37 million Nigerians are commercially active but have never had the opportunity to access loans.

She made the fact available to journalists in Abuja on Friday in a statement on federal government empowerment programmes under the supervision of BOI.

These Nigerians who are commercially active people are a mixed of traders, artisans, farmers, petty traders, among others at the base of the economic pyramid.

The source of the data is the National Bureau of Statistics and Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) report, she said.

According to her, the group constitutes the highest per cent of the country’s workforce.

“According to the report, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) employ 84 per cent of labour force, contribute 50 per cent to our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and some also contribute seven per cent of our total exports as a country.

“However, despite their contributions to national development, these businesses often do not have access to the capital they need to grow.

“Of all the bank loans given in the last five years in Nigeria, less than one per cent has gone to this segment.

“These are understandably so because these groups, while extremely hardworking, have little or no financial track record.

“They have no collateral and some barely have formal identities, “she said.

Federal Government in 2016 introduced Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) to support and encourage the people to continue with their contributions to economic development, she reported.

The GEEP loan has been beneficial for traders, artisans, farmers, petty traders who are at the bottom of the pyramid. GEEP was designed to cater for these millions of Nigerians at the base of the economic ladder.

“GEEP is a microcredit scheme and therefore, the more commercial of the social interventions of the Federal Government,” said.

The conditions for accessing loans were not as stringent as those of the commercial banks, easy to satisfy. She said.