BOI to inject funds into Agricultural processing

By The Citizen
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The Bank of Industry (BOI) has concluded plans to act as a propelling catalyst towards the realisation of the federal government's Industrial Revolution Plan by providing handy financial assistance to businesses and firms especially in the areas of agro-processing.

BOI is however not focusing on primary agriculture or agricultural development, which is the business of the Bank of Agriculture.

Announcing the BOI's latest agenda, the Managing Director/Chief Executive, Mr Rasheed Olaoluwa, said what the institution intended to do was to move Nigerians from farming to small scale enterprises, food processing and industrialised agro-industries.

The BOI boss was speaking recently when members of the Senate Committee on Investment conducted an oversight visit to the Bank's corporate headquarters in Lagos.

According to the BOI chief executive, what the Bank has been trying to do was to key into the government's Industrial Revolution Plan as well as the National Enterprises Development Programme of the present administration.

The BOI's chief mandate, according to him, is to promote the nation's industrial sector particularly by giving the necessary facilities to Small Scale Enterprises (SMEs).

'Small Scale Enterprises can actually play a major role in industrialisation efforts of the government. If you look at what goes on in other countries like South Africa, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brazil, among others, it is the SMEs that serve as foundation for industrialisation and that is exactly the same kind of model we are trying to replicate in Nigeria,' the BOI chief, observed.

According to him, the major challenge facing the institution now was how to create millions of jobs for the teaming number of unemployed graduates in the country. The Bank wants to create job opportunities in the agric sector as well as other sectors like solid minerals. The Solid Minerals sector for instance, where the BOI officials claim, much progress and successes have been recorded, gives it the confidence that it could as well succeed in its plan for agric processing businesses.

The bank has been focussing on 44 solid minerals deposits available in the country and it is claimed that Nigeria ranks 10th globally in terms of limestone/cement production.

The BOI has since entered partnership with many microfinance banks across the country, which, according to the BOI chief executive, is very close to the grassroots people and communities. The BOI boss also told the Senate Committee members that the Bank was making frantic efforts to be a rated finance institution like others across the world, adding that it has since engaged a dominant rating agency for that purpose.

'We want to get to international reckoning. When we do that, it gives us a different profile, and enables us to explore other funding options, so that BOI does not depend on 100% government funding,' he stated.

The Chairperson, Senate Committee on Industry, Senator Nnemdi Usman said the purpose of the visit was in line with the determination of the government to create jobs and employment opportunities for youths.

She said BOI would play a pivotal role in the initiative.

'We believe that the Bank is one of the strongest agencies that the government has been using to ensure that the industrial sector in Nigeria is being properly positioned to absorb the nation's manpower.

“I believe that if small, medium and even large scale industries are assisted in Nigeria, we would have most of these people who have no work today, fully employed.

“We are here to tell you that we are ready to partner with  BOI to ensure that the bank is able render it services very  well,' Usman said. Thisday