The Niger State Government has commenced the disbursement of the N1 billion Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Micro Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund (MSMEDF) to 11,578 beneficiaries.
The fund was the first tranche of disbursement to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) aimed at creating financial inclusion, wealth and empowerment of youths.
Gov. Abubakar Bello of Niger State said the State Government had keyed into the initiative as part of its restoration agenda to empower youths to be engaged in useful ventures to become self-reliant.
He advised the beneficiaries to be prudent in the management of the funds as they were loans to be paid back.
Bello said the Government would continue to support MSMEs so as to stimulate economic growth, create jobs and engage the youths to reduce restiveness.
“I must make it clear that these monies are not free; they are loans to artisans, which must be repaid so that others too can benefit.
“Our desire to focus on the SMEs will help the absorption of productive resources at all levels of the economy.
“This will enable them contribute to the building of flexible economy system in which artisans in the state are fully empowered to contribute to our economy,’’ he said.
He commended the effort of the agency in getting the beneficiaries and urged it to strengthen its recovery process till the loans were repaid.
In his remarks, Alhaji Farouk Audi, the Director-General of the Small, Medium Enterprises and Micro Finance Agency, in the state, said the beneficiaries were drawn across the 25 Local Government Areas.
According to Audi, 6,343 out of the total number are women constituting 60 percent, while 5,244 are men.
He said three Local Government Areas were selected in the three senatorial districts, adding that the scheme was targeted at generating wealth and job creation.
Audi added that the scheme would increase productivity and output of micro enterprises, enhance access to finance by MSME’s operators, reduce poverty to the barest minimum and address social vices among youths.
Also speaking, Alhaji Mahammad Mudi, the state Commissioner of Investment, Commerce and Industry, said the scheme would strengthen private sector operatives, ease access to affordable credit facility and create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.
He explained that the scheme was designed to empower the less privileged, petty traders, farmers, artisans, cottage industries, trade and general commerce, agricultural value-chain and business associations.
Mudi added that the scheme was a soft loan, and beneficiaries were expected to repay with ease through a simplified repayment guide within the recovery period.
Amaka E. Nliam