Cross River doles out N400 million to small scale enterprises
The Cross River State Government through its development agency, Microfinance and Enterprise Development Agency (MEDA) in collaboration with the Bank of Agriculture, has set aside N400 million for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME's).
Speaking at the cheques presentation ceremony to beneficiaries of the scheme in Calabar, the state Governor, Senator Liyel Imoke, who underscored the importance of MSME's in the economic development of any nation, disclosed that it provides the largest means of livelihood for self-employment in the state.
Imoke, who was represented by the Deputy Governor, Efiok Cobham, contended that the sector also has the highest potential for employment creation and socio-economic development which is why government has identified the sector as the engine through which its objectives of wealth creation could be achieve.
His words: 'Let me use this opportunity to reiterate one of the objectives of this administration which has always been wealth creation through socio-economic development. To pursue this, we had set out to create access to services for Cross Riverians, encourage Public-Private Partnership and maintain a socio-economic environment for self-sustaining growth and investment'.
He said despite the pivotal role the sector plays in the economic development of the state, the sector is still battling the challenge of insufficient capital, lack of proper business information, difficulty in accessing credit facility, high cost of finance and lack of skills in preparing business plans among its members.
'In recognition of the above, government set out to make MSME's more productive and rewarding by encouraging the adoption of best practice, developing a strong private sector driven economy, growing the purchasing power of our people and strengthening the real sector of the state economy', he further explained.
Imoke said that in addition to the loan, MEDA has been mandated to organize training programmes to address the capacity building needs of the beneficiaries and provide business development and advisory services to beneficiaries.
'The goal is that government does not only want the businesses to pay back the loan but more importantly, to do well and be sustainable', he admonished.
The governor disclosed that to ensure that the exercise is sustained, the state government has set aside one percent of its monthly allocation to MEDA with the mandate to use same to grow the scheme and make it available at investor-friendly conditions to MSME's.
The Director General, Bank of Agriculture, represented by the Executive Director Wholesale Finance, Mr. Waziri Ahmadu, disclosed that a total of N400 million has been budgeted for the programme at the first instance and that it may increase as the scheme progresses in the implementation.
The DG restated the bank's readiness to partner the state in a renewed effort to provide access to credit by its teeming populace through the development of micro, small and medium scale enterprises in the state through cheap finance and raised the hope that MEDA will deliver on its mandate effectively.
Also speaking, Special Adviser to Imoke on Investment Promotion, Mr. Gerald Adah, said the essence of the exercise is to development a strong private sector driven economy by growing the purchasing power of Cross Riverians and encouraging private enterprise and strengthening the real sector of the economy.
He maintained that the state government through MEDA will not relent in creating different finance windows to solve the problem of funding for the private sector and urged beneficiaries of the scheme to ensure judicious use of the fund so as to allow others benefits from the revolving scheme.
Director General, Microfinance Enterprise Development Agency (MEDA), Mr. Ignatius Atsu, disclosed that 500 micro enterprises and cooperative groups who met the criteria through a transparent process were selected to benefit from the scheme which attracts 8 percent interest for agro-based business and 9 percent non-agro business.
One of the beneficiaries, Mr. Effiom Akpama, thanked the state government for the gesture saying that the expansion of their business will in no little way better their lots and promised to ensure that the loans are paid promptly.