• Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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Jackpot in Rivers as Fubara doles out N4bn SME support fund

Jackpot in Rivers as Fubara doles out N4bn SME support fund

…State’s Micro Finance Agency says it’s Nigeria’s cheapest loan

…BoI says it has N4trn assets, N65bn funding in Rivers

The Rivers State Governor, Sim Fubara has started distributing N4bn to small businesses in what micro finance experts call Nigeria’s cheapest loans.

The loan has an interest rate of 7.5percent per annum with as high as six months moratorium in some instances. The partners, Bank of Industry, says they have N4trn asset base and has N55bn support fund in in Rivers State.

The disbursement began in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital, Friday morning to 3066 beneficiaries, some of who went home with N10m.

Fubara calls it N4bn matching fund loan scheme that would stimulate business activities in the State while also creating wealth.

The launching, which took place at the Obi Wali International Conference Centre in Port Harcourt signaled the commencement of the disbursement of Rivers State Government/Bank of Industry (BoI) N4billion marching fund loan scheme for nano, small and medium-scale businesses in the State.

Fubara said the lack of access to credit had continued to aggravate financial exclusion and choked the prospects for individuals to realise their economic aspirations for a better life.

With the scheme now launched, Gov Fubara emphasised that a sure path has been secured to achieve entrepreneurial success while serving as an enabler of economic prosperity in the State.

“Today, we are all here to witness the formal launch and distribution of cheques to 3,066 micro, small, and medium-scale enterprises and 100 companies in the State from all 23 local government areas, including businesses owned by non-indigenes valued at over N3.6billion only.

“We are satisfied with today’s outing and professionalism, believing even more strongly that the potential outcome will be greater to both BoI and the Government and good people of Rivers State.”

Governor Fubara explained that as a campaign blueprint, he promised, during his electioneering campaigns, to support entrepreneurial development and the growth of businesses through access to credit in the form of soft loans.

The governor said, upon assumption of office, he noticed more closely how most businesses, especially those of small scale, struggled and either died or gasped in accessing credit that were only offered by banks at neck-breaking interest without success.

Gov Fubara pointed out that: “As a State, we cannot talk about economic growth without stimulating business activities to create wealth and jobs through policies and programmes that will engender greater public access to credit and financial inclusion.

“MSMEs are well-known as critical drivers of inclusive economic growth and development. By empowering our people to cultivate available economic opportunities, access to credit is a powerful tool for achieving financial security.

“We can only keep imagining the economic value that the over 3,000 MSMEs would add to the positive economic dynamics of Rivers State and the local government areas in terms of gross domestic product, increased tax returns, employment creation, income distribution and production of good and services.”

Fubara made it clear that even if the loan appeared very liberal, it is not given as charity, and insisted that beneficiaries must pay back so that others can access it to fund their businesses.

The governor, therefore, instructed the management of the Rivers State Microfinance Agency (RIMA) to monitor the progress of the beneficiaries in their businesses and ensure a 100 percent recovery of the loans to guarantee the sustainability of the programme.

Fubara noted the gains of the symbiotic economic partnership between the State Government and BOI, and the transformed commitment to further strengthen and cultivate it for the benefit of the people of Rivers State.

In his address, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Bank of Industry (BOI) Limited, Olasupo Olusi, represented by the Executive Director of Corporate Services and Commercial, Usen Effiong, said they were particularly interested in ensuring that the collaboration is realised in steering socio-economic growth, creating jobs, checkmating social vices and growing the IGR of Rivers State.

“BoI remains committed and a strong pillar of development financing in Nigeria for over 60 years. Our remarkable record and total assets exceed N4trillion, which makes BoI the largest and most successful development finance institution in the nation.

“It will interest us to know that our total investment in Rivers State as at today stands at N55.65billion, which accounts for 55 percent of the total investment in the entire South-South. So, Rivers State alone is taking the chunk of our investment.

“We, as the Bank of Industry Limited, play a major role in supporting Nigerian enterprises by providing financial services, advisory services, and watch businesses grow from Nano to Micro to Small, Medium and getting to large enterprises.

“Our mandate is to create development impact which is in line with the economic blueprint of His Excellency, the Governor of Rivers State, and this cuts across various sectors ranging from agriculture, oil and gas, power and aviation, hospitality. This, we believe will crystalise industrialisation and economic sustainability in Rivers State.”

Delivering his welcome address, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Rivers State Microfinance Agency (RIMA), Jonathan Tobin, a pastor, said it was exciting that they were given the opportunity to contribute to achieving the dream project of Governor Fubara christened, “Touching Lives, Creating Wealth.”

Tobin stated that the timing of the launching of the scheme was auspicious because it was coming when the operating capital of most businesses have been eroded.

He explained that there are grave inflation rate and fluctuation of the foreign exchange regime, which have posed unbearable challenges to most micro businesses.

Tobin said the interest rate for loan collected under the scheme is single digit, which is 7.5 percent per annum, and reckons as the lowest in the country.

“Today, Your Excellency, we have four categories of borrowers. Those who are borrowing from N1,000 to N1,000.000. Those who are borrowing from above N1,000.000 to N50,000,000 are treated by our partners, Bank of Industry.

“If you are borrowing from N100,000 to N450,000, all you need to provide is just your passport photograph, the passport photograph of your guarantor, your NIN, and local government identification.

“For those who are borrowing from N500,000 to N1,000,000, all they need to provide is two passport photographs, their NIN, their means of identification, BVN, a guarantor with a cheque leaf. These categories of borrowers are treated in RIMA,” he added.

Pastor Tobin said further: “Those who are borrowing from above N1m to N10m will be treated in Bank of Industry. All they need is just a proof of registration of their businesses, two guarantors, a valid identification card, and a simple business plan.

“For those who are borrowing N10m to N50m, all they need is a Corporate Affairs Commission Registration, two years’ audited financial record, a Certificate of Occupancy, BVN, tax clearance of the company and or the directors.

“Your Excellency, as at today, we have brought on board 3,066 beneficiaries, and they all are requesting for N1.632bn. Interestingly, women borrowers account for 58 percent while the men borrowers account for 42 percent.”

He urged Rivers’ people interested in forging a good and sustainable business path to approach the agency for support to enable them contribute to the economic revival and growth of the State.

Highlight of the event was the official launch of the loan scheme and presentation of cheques to some successful beneficiaries from across the 23 LGAs and some small business owners by the State Governor, Fubara.