JULIUS JOHN |
The Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME) and Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) have urged the Bank of Industry (BoI) to relax the requirements for the recently launched second phase of the Dangote/BoI N10bn loan for SMEs in the country.
In a telephone interview with Business Hallmark the President of NASME, President, Alhaji Ibrahim Garba Gusau revealed his delight at the establishment of the fund while at the same time applauding Dangote for his commitment towards improving the Nigerian economy.
“I read about the BoI/Dangote fund for SMEs yesterday and I was delighted that Aliko Dangote is a Nigerian both in name and actions.
Look at what he has just done for SMEs. There is no way this will not stimulate growth in one way or the other,” Garba Gusau said.
The NASME president also used the opportunity to appeal to BoI to soften the conditions for accessing the loans as it is the only way the funds can achieved its desired effect. He stated that NASME as a body is not saying the loans should be given to anybody without the due process being followed but the conditions should be relaxed so that serious people will have access to it.
“We at NASME want to appeal to BoI to please soften the criteria for the loan since it is not from the Federal government. I am very sure that the reason why Dangote released these funds is to ensure that SMEs in Nigeria can have access to it at a very convenient rate so they can use it to improve and expand their businesses.”
“I am aware that this is the second tranche of N10 billion. Sometime ago, he released N5 billion for this same purpose. However, what I am not aware of is the criteria from BoI for accessing these loans. We do not know the criteria Dangote gave them for the loan. However, the bottom line is that BoI has more funds it can disburse to SMEs,” he added.
Similarly, The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) have lauded Dangote for the N10 billion Dangote fund, which will be managed by the Bank of Industry. According to its Director General Mr Muda Yussuf, the fund will enable SME players, particularly in the manufacturing sector to scale up; especially when one considers the fact that the loan will be given out at a 5% interest rate.
“This loan is a welcome development for SMEs especially when one considers the fact that we hardly have loans for SMEs which are given out at such a low interest rate,” said the LCCI D.G.
Of particular interest to MudaYussuf is the duration for the repayment of the loan. For him, the fact that those who get the loans have a period of five years to repay it means that they will have enough time to do something meaningful with it.
“What interest me about that loan is that SME players who have access to the loan have as much as a five year period to pay up with a five per cent rate. For me, this is astonishing. How I wish other big brothers in the manufacturing industry will toe the line of Dangote and contribute their own quota towards the growth of the Nigerian industrial sector. The truth is that we cannot leave everything in the hands of the government alone,” he said.
Mr Yussuf also solicited for the repositioning of the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), to play the much needed role of job creation for the teeming unemployed in the country. According to him, the power to create jobs lies with SMEs.
It will be recalled that recently Dangote released the second tranche of N10 billion funds for SMEs. The fund attracts a 5% interest rate and it tenured for five years.
In an interview with BoI, it revealed that one of the criteria for accessing the fund is that the person or company must be involved in manufacturing.
“All those who want to access the fund must be involved in manufacturing because the fund is aimed at improving Nigeria’s manufacturing sector. Those SMEs involved in buying and selling do not qualify for the fund,” said BoI spokesperson.
According to BoI, it is a revolving fund. This is because when people pay back the loan, it is given to other people. This is why it is important for them to pay back.
“The fund is a revolving one and it is open to anyone who is involved in manufacturing that needs it. There are no special criteria for it apart from the usual which BoI will ask for. When you access the loan, you have a moratorium of six months where you would not have to pay any money. After the six months period has elapsed, you now begin to pay,” she said.