The Bank of Industry (BoI) and the Abia State Government have signed an agreement to pump N1 billion into the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) sector of the state. The Memorandum of Understanding between the bank and the state was signed at the Government House, Umuahia.
Acting Managing Director/ CEO of BoI, Mr. Waheed Olagunju, stated that the N1billion SME development fund is to be equally contributed by the bank and the state for onward lending to entrepreneurs in the state to further boost their value addition processes, expand their production capacities and make more jobs available for the unemployed.
“By our estimation in the Bank of Industry, through every N1billion we lend, we are able to generate close to 10,000 jobs. And as resources permit, we can also increase the pool of funds. This is just a framework that we intend to start with,” he added.
“What we are trying to do now is to accentuate the industrialisation of Abia State particularly in the SME sector vertically and horizontally, to increase the level of entrepreneurship in the state with its attendant multiplier effects.
“We need to add value to our products rather than exporting them in their crude form to countries where they are processed and sent back to us with more value and we pay heavily for that and the per capita income of those countries get much higher than we have here, and the quality of life and living standards are also much higher than we have here,” said Olagunju.
He also announced that the bank was aiming to open a branch office in Umuahia, to enable it bring more of its products and services closer to entrepreneurs in the state. In his remarks, the Abia State Governor, OkezieIkpeazu, said: “I want to assure you that every person that will benefit from the facility will give a good account of it and will be willing to pay back.