Chime flags off N1billion intervention fund for SMEs

By The Citizen

Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu State has reiterated the determination of his administration to continue partnering with the Bank of Industry (BOI) towards the creation of wealth and jobs especially among unemployed persons in the state.

The Governor stated this in Enugu during the presentation of cheques to the 1st Batch of Micro, small and medium Enterprises loan beneficiaries under the one billion naira intervention fund set up by the Enugu state government in collaboration with the Bank of industry.

Governor Chime who was represented at the occasion by his Commissioner for Finance, Mr Godson Nnadi, stated that it had always been the desire of his administration to make Enugu State one of the four most industrialized States of Nigeria and the economic hub of the south East zone by the year2020.

He added that government is determined to achieve this feat by developing and implementing initiatives and programmes that would harness and unleash the potentials of the private entrepreneurship in the state.

Chime explained that the BOI/ENSG MSME Fund Scheme was a matching fund program with an initial investment fund of N1billon where both the State Government and the Bank of Industry are required to make an equal contribution of N500 million each to assist Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (MSMEs) operations in various categories of business/industries.

He said, 'Today, we are sending out a clear message to our people especially, the unemployed youths and others who are business inclined, that money is and should no longer be an issue or impediment when it comes to starting or expanding their own businesses. As a matter of fact, I have been assured and today’s event serves as a confirmation, that access to this fund can be concluded by any aspiring or existing entrepreneur within 6-8 weeks'. The Governor congratulated the beneficiaries of the fund urging them to utilize the fund judiciously.

Speaking at the launch of the fund and presentation of cheques, Managing Director, BOI, Ms Evelyn Oputu, who was represented by the South/East Regional Manager, BOI, Mr. Balarabe Hassan, disclosed that the Governor of Enugu state, Sullivan Chime has approved a contribution of N500 million which has been equally matched in like sum by BOI towards the establishment of the fund.

' The uniqueness of this partnership from other matching funds we have had so far, is the contributions from the local government councils which would guarantee financial inclusion of all those in the local government areas of the state. The pool of funds shall be provided as loans to entrepreneurs in the state' she stated.

She said the strategy adopted in the administration of the fund is to target those projects that will convert the mainly agrarian and solid minerals comparative advantage of the state into competitive advantage, adding that, as at today, BOI has granted loan facilities of N2.329 billion in Enugu state to  Micro, Small, Medium and Large enterprises outside the BOI-ENSG MSME fund, which are all mainly engaged in processing and manufacturing activities.

Oputu urged the state government to offer fee waivers to entrepreneurs in the state that intend to access financial assistance from the Bank of Industry, as this would reduce the cost of legal documentation and also accelerate the disbursement of the economy loan facilities.

'The government should also endeavor to put the necessary infrastructure in place that would create an enabling environment for entrepreneurs in the state. One way of doing this is to organize them into clusters and establish mini-cluster parks with common facilities. This would drastically reduce the cost of doing business for the entrepreneurs' she said.

The Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Enugu state, Dr. Jude Akubuilo, in a welcome address, said Governor Sullivan Chime has done his part, by the establishment of the fund, saying it is now up to the SMEs across the state to key into the programme, tap into this fund to boost their growth, expansion and job creation.