Small business owners in Rivers State are to benefit from a N2billion micro-credit scheme without necessarily providing collateral, Governor Nyesom Wike has said.
The governor said the state government will serve as a collateral for the small business owners so they can play more positive roles in the economic recovery of the state.
Mr. Wike assured the less privileged in the state that his administration will take concrete steps to empower them through micro-credit schemes that will grow small and medium scale businesses across the state.
Flagging off the N2billion Rivers State Micro,Small, and Medium Scale Entreprises Development Fund in Port Harcourt on Saturday, Governor Wike said the project, being funded through a facility from the Central Bank of Nigeria, would assist small businesses with capital.
According to him, his administration would ensure that the conditions for issuing the loans by the Rivers State Micro Finance Agency, RIMA, was friendly enough for small and medium sized businesses to have access to funds.
He said: “The aim of this empowerment programme is to reach the mama-put operator, the onion seller, the barber, the table water manufacturer and owners of medium sized businesses for them to expand, employ more people and grow the state economy.
“With the present reality, it is no longer feasible to rely solely on oil revenue. Therefore, my administration will ensure that these businesses have access to funds without stringent conditions. This is the first batch. Those not accommodated in this batch will be accommodated in the second batch”.
The governor added that his administration would also extend credit facilities to farmers in the state to enable them expand production and empower a greater percentage of the people.
Governor Wike said the N2billion fund would be administered judiciously, pointing out that it would not be handled the way the Rotimi Amaechi administration treated a similar facility.
In his remarks, the chairman of RIMA, Austin Opara, said the Wike administration sourced the N2billion for the purpose of empowering the less privileged.
He said the fund would be disbursed through three micro-finance banks. He appealed to beneficiaries to repay their loans so that the revolving scheme would be sustained.
TherRepresentative of the CBN, Chinedu Zephaniah, assured the Rivers State government of the support and cooperation of the bank to ensure the success of the scheme.
The state government later organised a seminar for beneficiaries of the scheme from the 23 Local Government Areas of the State.
The seminar was titled “Actualizing the New Vision on Food Security, Entrepreneurship development, poverty reduction and job creation in Rivers State.”