By Peter Okolie
Awka – The Anambra Government has reiterated its commitment to remain the choice destination for commerce in the country as it targets N20 billion to boost Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).
The Managing Director, Anambra State Small Business Agency (ASBA), Mr Clement Chukwuka, made the disclosure in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Awka on Monday.
Chukwuka said that Gov. Willie Obiano was determined to encourage investments and build institutions that would not only promote micro, small and medium enterprises but outlive his administration.
He said the agency targets to raise N20 billion in the next seven and half years with a hope of generating over three billion naira in 2017 alone to assist entrepreneurs.
“We are already working with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to raise more funds.
“In the past 19 months, the agency had so far funded in excess of 15, 000 people directly in the micro credit schemes and close to 200 for the SMEs which had further created chains of employment.
“We have also been able to put in place shoe manufacturing cluster in conjunction with the Standards Organisations of Nigeria (SON) with over a thousand shops built with little funds.
“They are expected to begin manufacturing of shoes for export.
“Asides from providing finance to entrepreneurs at 9 per cent, we are also into mentoring and we plan to open up opportunities for fashion designers, mechanics and artisans this year,” he said.
He said that the state government in conjunction with CBN had disbursed loans totaling two billion naira through the agency to revive moribund industries since June 2015.
Chukwuka disclosed that the agency also plans to establish ASBA Business Academy “where for instance we will train and certify artisans in conjunction with the state Ministry of Science and Technology”.
According to him, our aim is to ensure that paper qualification becomes a thing of the past because we want people to make a living despite the economic recession.
“ASBA is a development financial institution of the state created to cover areas of industrialisation, value added chain programmes, artisans, science and technology, oil and gas, and manufacturing sectors.
“Major Anambra rice millers and the clusters that export vegetables from the state overseas are funded by the agency to boost the agricultural sector,” the managing director, further disclosed.
He said that micro credit entrepreneurs who applied for funds received between N1, 000 and N500, 000 while between five million naira and N50 million was approved for successful applicants under the SMEs programme.
He stressed that ASBA had impacted on over 60, 000 businesses directly and indirectly in the state, adding, however, that the agency had strict policy for recovering every loan.