By Elizabeth Adegbesan
The Association of Micro Entrepreneurs of Nigeria, AMEN, has called on the government to establish an entrepreneurial bank saying that Micro Small and Medium enterprises could not access credit due to stringent criteria for loan assessment in commercial banks and microfinance banks.
AMEN President, Comrade Prince Saviour Ichie, made this call over the weekend at a press conference in Lagos.
According to Ichie, limited access to funding is killing the businesses of entrepreneurs and the increasing unemployment rate in the country.
He said:” We are now calling on the federal government as a matter of urgency to establish an entrepreneurial bank whereby a micro-entrepreneur can have access to credit loan within 48 hours because what we have now cannot sustain us. This day we are calling on the federal government of the day, President Muhammadu Buhari to look inward and see that things are going well in this sector.
“We decided to call this press conference so that Nigeria and the government of the day would be aware of what is happening in this industry. Micro-entrepreneurs are the bedrock of every economy in any serious country but it may interest you that we the micro entrepreneurs in Nigeria are having it so difficult. So many things have been going on and especially for us to do business and do it well. Most of us in the industry are aware that for us to access fund is a very difficult thing.
“Talking of the microfinance banks, their own is suicide. The only hope we have is the Bank of Industry (BOI) and the BOI has a lot of responsibilities. They carry both international companies and micro-entrepreneurs. The criteria the international companies use to access fund is the same they give to microentrepreneurs that is why we cannot have access to funding.
“The rate of unemployment in Nigeria is getting too high, the reason is that we the entrepreneurs that should have helped to cut down the rate of unemployment cannot do so because of the factor we just mentioned. The little job our youths have today is betting and that is why Nigeria is called a consuming nation instead of a producing nation.
“For us to expand in our businesses, we need funds so that we can be able to accommodate more youths in Nigeria. For the fact that he wants to bring in new cabinets, we want to say that the person that would be appointed to pilot the affair of the Ministry of Trade and Investment should be somebody that has been in the business. We don’t want a medical doctor who has not experienced the pain of being an industrialist. With this, they can be able to have the feeling of what we are facing.”
He further called on BOI to reduce the time frame of processing loans saying, “We still want to call on BOI as a matter of urgency, loan process should not be more than two months. Most of us here, including me, my loan process is going to a year and six months and as of last week, they brought a letter telling me that my loan facility has expired.”