Abia Government Launches N1 Billion Interest-Free Loan Scheme for Small Business Owners

Alex Otti

Abia State Governor, Alex Otti, has inaugurated the disbursement of the N1 billion interest-free loan under the state cooperative support scheme for nano and micro business operators drawn from the 184 electoral wards of the state.

Speaking during the inauguration in Umuahia the state capital, on Thursday, Otti said the scheme is strategic to the economic emancipation of small business owners especially the rural dwellers, adding that the multiplier effect will lift dependants of the beneficiaries from abject poverty.

About 10,000 individuals would benefit from the credit facility.

The governor said the scheme aligns perfectly with the strategic development agenda of his government geared towards improving the welfare of the general populace, maintaining that the target is beyond the present, adding that the projection is to boost the economy.

He said, “Thousands of the beneficiaries selected for this batch are petty traders, farmers, and artisans who have over the years toiled on their own without the kind of structured support that their peers from other parts of the world take for granted.

“Our model is geared towards improving production, creating jobs and reducing poverty. Our target is beyond the present number of beneficiaries, which is to reach about 100, 000 businesses directly over the next 36 months because we are optimistic that today’s beneficiaries will put in honest effort to repay the loans in time so that others can benefit.

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“The projection is that the injection of about N1bn into the economy of the various communities in the state through the interest-free revolving loan scheme will ultimately lead to a jump in the volume of agricultural outputs brought to the markets in the short to medium term, new orders for business inputs, and a measurable rise in the value of the gross domestic product of the local communities.”

He assured all that appropriate mechanism for monitoring the scheme would be put in place and added that as soon as a measurable rise in business consciousness amongst the people at the grassroots is seen, government would go into partnership with international development institutions and agencies to increase the pool of funds available for borrowing.

In her remarks, the state Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Mrs. Blessing Felix, thanked Otti for being consistently committed to the welfare of Abia people and providing the resources to run the scheme.

She said it is a proof that help has indeed come.

Speaking on behalf of other Mayors, the Mayor of Aba North Local Government Council, Ide Udeagbala, thanked the governor for a well thought out initiative aimed at empowering small business owners across the state.

While describing the scheme as strategic to the economic emancipation of small business owners especially the rural dwellers, he noted that the multiplier effect will lift dependants of the beneficiaries from abject poverty.

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Earlier in his address, the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Cooperative Societies, Ishmael Onuoha, said that the interest-free loan, which is not free money, is structured in a way that anyone who makes gains would be given more money and assured that the scheme would be monitored to ensure compliance.

Responding on behalf of the beneficiaries, Mrs. Mercy Alamba, thanked Otti for the gesture extended to them, saying that they have not seen it in that form before.

She enjoined her fellow beneficiaries to utilise the funds well.

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