• Wednesday, May 29, 2024
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‘Funding is required to move start-ups to established businesses’

‘Funding is required to move start-ups to established businesses’

Olusegun Soewu is the chief executive officer (CEO) of Bureau of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Kwara State Ministry of Commerce and Cooperatives. In this interview with SIKIRAT SHEHU, Soewu says his office is committed to developing small businesses to unlock hidden local potential and stimulate economy.

How is your office supporting Kwarans to acquire funds for small-scale businesses?

Our activities here are about giving money to the people through our partnering microfinance banks. We run the Kwara State Micro Credit Intervention and under the scheme, we have several windows. We have trade and commerce window, where we have about N250 million; we have N100 million for artisans and one for transporters totally close to N400 million, if you add the mass transit buses we just procured. Apart from that, we have been providing funds for motor bikes and mini buses and 150 taxes.

Similarly, we invested N214 million in agric and additional N64 million. One hundred million naira was just released to market men and women and they are undergoing the process of accessing the fund. Another sum of N5 million was also released to butchers.

As I speak to you, under the CAKS scheme, we invested about N900 million and the bedrock of this is to help people to be better than how they were before.

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May we have the percentage of beneficiaries and what the criteria for accessing these funds are?

As we speak, we have gone close to 70,000 across the board.

Farmers, artisans, market men and women, and so many other people are going to have access to what we are doing.

What we do is to open an account with a microfinance bank where you will get the money from. You will be given a loan form, and a serving civil servant in the state government will provide a guarantee for you.

Before then, the bank would have done some checks on you, such as knowing where your shop or farm is located.

We do the first level of appraisal here and the bank will also do its own and you get back to us. If we are on the same page, we approve it.

What challenges do you face while managing your office?

It is normal to have challenges, where people collect money from you through government office and it is a bit difficult to recover, but we are

doing our best and our recovery rate now is about 80 percent. So we are doing fine.

How important is finance to SMEs and how were you able to measure up to 80 percent in terms of recovery time?

Improving access to credit is crucial. If SMEs are to reach their potential and move from start-ups to established businesses with growth potential, the SMEs sector must be properly developed and funded.

What we do is to tidy up at the point of disbursement in terms of guarantors and ensure the structure of transaction is put in place, because if the facilities of the structure are faulty from the beginning, it becomes difficult for you to recover. However, if you do it right from the beginning, it will be easier for you recover. So, what we are doing basically is to structure our facilities properly to ensure proper recovery.

So what are your targets?

We want to deepen our reach to people in areas that we have not reached. People who have not accessed fund will be given, and those who have accessed funds before now can easily re-access funds.

We will continue to promote the informal sector of the economy by providing credit for small enterprises and cooperative societies to stimulate commerce, trade and economy of Kwara State.