By SundiataPOST, Abuja
The Port Harcourt Refining Company (PHRC) has flagged off its micro credit scheme aimed at providing economic empowerment to its host communities.
Speaking at the ceremony in Eleme, Rivers, Mr Ian Udoh, the Managing Director, PHRC, said that the refinery had continuously explored ways of bringing development to its host communities.
Udoh said that the scheme was“ just one of the ways“ the company had found for implementation.
“We will go further to implement the youth empowerment and skill acquisition scheme, which has already been approved by our management and will roll out every soon.
“Our aim is to help in developing the host communities by empowerment, individual empowerment and collective empowerment.
“This does not detract the on-going efforts to physically improve the infrastructure around our host communities,“ he said.
Udoh, however, did not disclose the amount the company has set aside for the revolving loan.
Mr Ralph Ugwu, Manager, Public Affairs, PHRC, described the flag-off of the scheme as a “significant milestone in our corporate social responsibility efforts.“
Ugwu said that the scheme was conceptualised in the company’s quest to stem the growing tide of unemployment, poverty, youth restiveness
He said that the search for ways of ensuring continuous improvement in the economic and social wellbeing of the company’s host communities of Eleme and Okrika also gave birth to the scheme.
According to Ugwu, the main thrust of the scheme is to provide economic empowerment through credit financing to promote enterprise development.
“The scheme will encourage human capacity development of the people, generate income, build wealth overtime and reduce poverty to the barest minimum
“It is thus capable of promoting the traditional occupation of the people namely, fish farming, trading, craftsmanship etc. “
Ugwu explained that that the process of selecting the beneficiaries involved critical stakeholders in the communities which included the traditional institution, co-operative groups, youth groups.
He said that the process also involved the PHRC Joint Community Relations Committee for the two communities.
He, however said that the programme expected that the production workforce within the community would pursued noble economic ventures against social vices like pipeline vandalism, and petroleum product adulteration.
Ugwu urged the beneficiaries to work assiduously to grow their businesses profitably and repay the loans for other people to benefit.
Mr Ken Onodingene, the Managing Director of Kantas International Nigeria Ltd., said that the beneficiaries were screened on individual business basis and the modalities resulted in outlining the low, medium and high income business outfits.
The low income business outfit graded to receive a loan between N50, 000 and N500, 000, the medium N501, 000 to N1 million and high grade N1 million to N3 million.
Mrs Veronica Koko, who benefitted from the scheme to expand her cloths/Gift shop, commended PHRC on behalf of other beneficiaries and promised to work hard in order to pay back the loan.