The Bank of Industry (BoI) and Bayelsa State government have unveiled a N2 billion Micro Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) matching development fund to support entrepreneurs in Bayelsa as part of efforts to encourage value-addition to the nation’s natural resource endowments.
Indeed, the development finance institution (DFI) highlighted the need to drive MSMEs especially in agriculture, considering the sector’s potential to achieve industrialisation and support federal government’s efforts to diversify the economy.
Bayelsa State Governor, Henry Dickson, explained that entrepreneurship agreement such as the one initiated with the bank is vital for rapid economic growth in the state.
He said the partnership is coming at a time when the State government is making efforts to create a N10 billion entrepreneurship development fund to be managed by the ministry of industry, trade and investment, adding that the fund will be geared towards supporting businesses and lots of initiatives in the State’s fashion industry.
In his words: “This is why the government, among other programmes created a micro finance bank for the first time to address challenges of funding. We believe that at the end, it is the small scale businesses that will drive industrialisation in Nigeria.”
He commended BoI for its support towards entrepreneurship development in Nigeria, saying that the war against poverty and Nigeria’s quest to industrialise would require collective efforts by all relevant government agencies and the private sector.
He said there would be similar initiatives with other lenders and players in the industry to make up with the N10 billion entrepreneurship fund.
“I want to thank you for believing in Bayelsa. You have always been available to lend support to encourage our people. This State needs support and I am glad BoI is showing the way and we will take this partnership to all federal agencies who have the capacity to work with us to create wealth and employment opportunities in Nigeria,” he added.
Earlier, the acting BoI boss, Waheed Olagunju, said the fund would only be given to people after going through a rigorous capacity building programme organised by development centres of the Pan African University in partnership with the Entrepreneurship Institute in Bayelsa and entrepreneurship development centres in the State.
Olagunju assured the people of Bayelsa that the fund would be disbursed at single digit interest rate, stating that the capacity building programme will help convert aspiring entrepreneurs’ visions into business models to prepare good business models in order to give their business a high chance of succeeding.
“Globally, out of every 10 well appraised projects, about eight have the chance of succeeding. We are also going to help them identify areas where they will like to improve on, the risk involved, how to mitigate those risks in order to reduce the casualty rate of businesses.
“We are here to assure you that as a federal government institution, we will collaborate with you and work with all the relevant agencies in the State ranging from the enterprise development agencies, the micro finance and the entrepreneurship development institute as well as the entrepreneurship development centre at the Pan African University in Lagos and also many development partners as possible both local and foreign will be pooled into working with the State to ensure we align with your vision of developing Bayelsa State while also empowering citizens.”
He said the DFI will support mainly enterprises that add value to the nation’s natural endowments in line with the bank’s commodity-based industrialisation strategy aimed at adding value to the nation’s vast resources which includes agriculture, solid minerals and oil.
“We will work with the entrepreneurship development centres to identify potentially, viable micro small and medium enterprises to empower Bayelsans,” he promised.