By Ugochukwu Alaribe – Umuahia
In a bid to boost the economy of low-income traders in Aba, Abia State governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu has set up a Small and Medium Enterprises Microfinance Bank as well as an N10 Million Naira micro-credit Scheme in the city.
Speaking at the event at the occasion, Ikpeazu said that the N10 Million Naira credit scheme is established for the ordinary traders and recommended that 6 out of 10 beneficiaries in the first phase of the credit scheme must be women.
The Governor explained that the idea of the Bank is to create millionaires in the State through the SMSE, adding that his expectation is that the bank would empower 100 persons each month and urged all to open accounts with the bank.
In his words, “Abia State Government wants to save traders from long processes of collateral from commercial banks. The only collateral needed to benefit from the scheme is ideas from the prospective beneficiaries as the government is bringing financing to meet ideas.
“Abia SME Bank is will create an opportunity for the people of the State to access available funds from the Federal Government. The CBN, Bank of Industry, among others. We will continue to fund SME in the State.”
While stressing that the location of the bank is strategic for traders in Aba, Ikpeazu disclosed that the first set of Made in Aba shoes would roll out from the newly installed automated shoe factory soon and urged Aba residents to leverage on the constant electric power in Ariaria International Market to improve their businesses.
Earlier, Commissioners for SME, Mr. Onyema Wachuku, his Trade and Investment and Industry counterpart, Dr. Cosmas Ndukwe, and Mrs. Uwaoma Olewengwa, respectively, described Abia as a State that promotes entrepreneurship and supports SMEs.
They also stated that the present administration is laying a strong foundation for the greater economic development of the State.
In their separate speeches, the Chairman, Abia SME Microfinance Bank Implementation Committee, Dr. Eme Okoro and Coordinator, Implementation Committee, Mr. Gab Igboko described the bank as the people’s bank, stressing that it is a catalyst to revitalize the economy of the State.
Also speaking, the partners of the State government including the representatives of the Bank of Industry, Mr. Anthony Aligo, as well as that of CBN and Keystone Bank, Mr. Celsus Hagler and Mr. Austin Akuma, respectively, said the bank would help channel funds made for SME for Abia people seamlessly and assured of more partnership with the State government.