By Yakubu Uba
Maiduguri, July 15, 2020 Gov. Babagana Zulum of Borno has disbursed N1 billion interest-free loan to 15,861 members 12 trade unions and associations to boost their businesses.
Zulum said at the launch of the disbursement on Wednesday in Maiduguri that the first tranche of N2 billion loan to Small and Medium Scale Entrepreneurs by the state government was in collaboration with Bank of Industry (BoI) organised by Borno Renaissance Micro Bank Ltd.
The governor said that the loan was aimed at reviving business activities, encourage employment opportunities and expand sources of income for unemployed youths in the state.
He added that “the loan will also prepare our small and medium scale business operators for financial inclusion by making them bankable and inculcating into them the culture of using banks as sources of finance.
“This loan is interest-free and is payable in four years with moratorium period of six months within which businesses are expected to pick-up and generate profit.”
He explained that his administration remained committed to creating more opportunities by expanding sources of income for the people to reduce the rate of unemployment to the barest minimum, in line with the state’s recovery and resettlement programme.
He told beneficiaries of the loan that anyone that was able to pay back within the stipulated time would enjoy 50 per cent waiver and would automatically qualify for another loan.
Zulum also said that based on commitment to empower many women and youth, his administration was in high level talks with Central Bank of Nigeria, African Development Bank, and Islamic Development Bank to create more windows of opportunities to entrepreneurs, in line with global best practice.
The governor also announced plan to revive some of the ailing industries in the state, particularly the Borno plastic and Borno International Hotel.
The state’s Commissioner for Trade and Investment, Alhaji Yerima Lawan, said the development was a laudable move in view of the deplorable nature of the state’s economy, following the devastation caused by the insurgency in the past 12 years.
The Borno branch Manager of BoI, Alhaji Maina Mohammed, said that the gesture would go a long way in boosting economic growth in the state.
Shettima Mustafa and Aishatu Sani of Maisandari Traders Association who benefited from the loan, lauded the initiative, which they said was timely for many petty traders struggling to pick up.
Mustafa, who is the Chairman of the association, said that his members underwent training in entrepreneurship to enhance their knowledge on how to utilise the loan for maximum benefit.
The beneficiaries received between N30,000 and N50,000, depending on how large the association they belong to is.