Over 39,000 businesses in Delta got N2bn support in four years

Over 39,000 persons across the 270 wards of Delta State had their businesses boosted in the last four years, as they received monetary support from the Ifeanyi Okowa-led administration, amounting to a total of N2 billion.
The support, in form of grants and loans, passed through the Delta State Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises Development Agency(DEMSMA) to the beneficiaries.
Shimite Bello, the immediate past executive secretary of DEMSMA, disclosed this in an exclusive interview with BusinessDay in Asaba.
Bello commended the state governor for releasing the funds to the agency to reach the targets in the various wards of the state, saying, ‚ÄúWe were able to support about 40,000 persons, that is 39,000 plus.‚ÄĚ
She said above this number of beneficiaries, 2,300 persons were given grants and they included welders, fashion designers, barbers and hairdressers, etc.
‚ÄúWe had identified with the governor that some of these particular kinds of businesses would not do well with loans; that what we needed to do was to give them a small injection for working capital, and he accepted, hence the grants,‚ÄĚ she said.
She however lamented the inability of the remaining population of the state to have access to funds to support their businesses.
‚ÄúThe population of Delta State is over 5 million people. While we have this number of happy people (the beneficiaries), we still have so many more that are waiting for the government to attend to their loan requests. So, there‚Äôs still more to be done,‚ÄĚ she said.
She mentioned the near absence of strong micro-finance banks as another big challenge facing the agency in its task of supporting businesses with funds. “We don’t have very strong micro-finance banks in the state, because when you do with micro-credit, you need good strong micro-finance banks.
‚ÄúWhereas there are 35 micro-finance banks existing in the state, there are not many that are strong. We keep training them and trying to see if they can remain afloat. That has been a problem because it‚Äôs so much easier if they (the beneficiaries) go through the micro-finance banks.‚ÄĚ
She also regretted that out of the N2 billion given out, not less than N200 million has been recovered; not because of the agency’s inability to access the people but because businesses of a lot of people did not do well in the last four years.
She said the businesses had so many issues leading to some of them being considered for refinancing. ‚ÄúThere are some (loans) that we have to call bad debts. But there are few of them that we have identified that we can recover the monies. I think about N500 million of that money can be recovered if followed closely,‚ÄĚ Bello stated.
Bello held sway as DEMSMA’s boss for the past four years, reiterated the governor’s commitment to do more for the people in his second term that has just kicked off.
She urged Deltans to cooperate with the administration to deliver on the dream of building a stronger state where everyone would be prosperous.

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