Upbeat by the desire to turn Ebonyi to one of the industrial hubs in Nigeria, the Bank of Industry (BOI), and Ebonyi State Government has contributed N1 billion each amounting to N2 billion to kick start an Entrepreneur Loan Scheme in the State.
According to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which was signed last week, by the State Governor, David Umahi, and the Managing Director of BOI, Olukayode Pitan, over 5,000 indigent farmers interested in rice, maize, and cassava farming and processing will benefit from the gesture for the next two years.
Those interested in salt, soda and solid minerals mining are also qualified to benefit.Speaking at the signing of the MOU in Abuja, Umahi said the whole idea is to create wealth and jobs for the people of the area as well as encourage self reliance.
Umahi said: “This opportunity is for the empowerment for our youths, those who know they can enter into businesses such as maize, cassava farming as well as salt and soda extraction, which we have in large deposit form in the State. We want our people to come back home to benefit from the initiative as not less than N5,000 would be advanced to each beneficiary on a single digit interest rate.
“You will agree with me that high interests rates of between 15 to 20 per cent even at times as much as 28 per cent is what our banks and financial institutions are charging for loans today. This has not in any way helped our industries to grow; it has not even allowed our entrepreneurs to survive in their businesses either. This is the whole idea we need to change, that’s why I am here at the BOI to make the negotiation work faster. We want to capture them young; we are also using this opportunity to change their mindset that once you are a graduate, you only wait until you find a white collar job.”
The Governor also solicited the support of BoI to renegotiate and redesign the terms of the MoU the State entered into with the Bank on Community Electrification, adding, “our State will also go into fertiliser production if your bank will support us.”
Responding, Pitan expressed the readiness of the Bank to assist the Ebonyi State to achieve its dreams.“But you can see, we at BOI are eager to work with you, hence we gave immediate approval to support your initiative with N1billion. We are eager because we can see in you that you are very eager; to date, we have supported over 20 other states in several schemes aimed at empowering the Micro, Small, Medium Scale (MSMEs) to make our people more self reliant.
“Very soon in the next few weeks, we shall deploy our qualified personnel to come to your state, screen and educate beneficiaries of this programme for better successes.’’
We must warn that it’s time for our people to know that these kind of soft loans are not free gift from the bank or the State Government. I mean, it is not a free money from anywhere, beneficiaries should know that they must pay back as at when due to enable the second or third phase to go on.”
He explained that the N2 billion put together by both parties would be deposited in an interest account with any commercial bank while the proceeds would be shared by the two parties.