SMEs financing: Akwa Ibom to partner Bank of Industry
By Aniekan James Ekah
Lack of access to working capital for micro-entrepreneurs and small business owners who desire to borrow for business purposes to enhance their businesses will soon be a thing of the past as the Ministry of Trade and Investment, Akwa Ibom State, has expressed readiness to foster a sustainable partnership with the Bank of Industry (BOI).
This was made known at a meeting between the Honorable Commissioner for Trade and Investment, Akwa Ibom State, Prince Akpabio, and Mr. Richard Imonije, State Manager, SME Group, Bank of Industry, on Thursday in Uyo, the Akwa State capital.
Speaking during the meeting, the Commissioner acknowledged the contributions of the Bank of Industry in addressing Nigeria’s rising economic profile in line with its mandate to provide financial assistance for the establishments of new enterprises, the expansion, diversification, modernization of existing enterprises, and the rehabilitation of ailing industries, stressing that, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) are becoming increasingly important for the creation and development of a modern, dynamic and knowledge-based economy, that is why, Governor Udom Emmanuel, who runs a listening government, sensitive to the plights of SMEs in the state, will stop at nothing but to provide the necessary support for entrepreneurs by creating a comfortable business environment and partnering with relevant agencies to attract funding for SMEs in the state.
Akpabio further stated that the Ministry of Trade and Investment had already hit the ground running by creating a forum of interaction with SMEs across the state and that the July edition saw over 500 Entrepreneurs coming to share their success stories, challenges, and prospects with the Ministry, maitaining that such forum has helped the Ministry identify factors affecting the development of SMEs, and that necessary steps will be taken within the shortest possible time, to alleviate basic challenges while creating new opportunities for SMEs in the state.
In his reaction, Mr. Imonije said the purpose of his visit was to create a synergy between the Ministry and Bank of Industry (BOI), as his office oversees the relationship between BOI and SMEs in Akwa Ibom and Cross River States. He added that the BOI has earmarked One Billion Naira for SMEs financing in Akwa Ibom State to stimulate the local economy but some of these businesses lack basic Economic instruments like C-of-Os to access these funds while he decried the attitude of some SMEs towards business development, financing, and innovations in Akwa Ibom.
Mr. Imonije used the medium to pour encomiums on the Governor for his Industrialization Drive and Commerce and Investment Boss for the feat recorded so far in interpreting the visions of the state Governor, assuring the ministry and Akwa Ibom State Government that Bank of Industry (BOI) is on ground to partner with credible business operators in Akwa Ibom and not “portfolio businessmen” whose stock in trade is to divert funds.
Responding, the Commissioner said that Governor Udom Emmanuel’s Completion Agenda seeks to create an enabling economic environment where at least 30,000 Micro, Small and Medium Scale Businesses across the State are established in addition to more than 20,000 Businesses that are to be boosted, in line with his Dakkada Philosophy, and that the Ministry of Trade and Investment, under his watch, will fast-track the approval and subsequent release of C-of-Os to credible businesses duly registered in the state, whose tax papers and other relevant documents are up-to-date, so that they can access these funds, inject same into their businesses while stimulating the local economy in the process.
Prince Akpabio used the opportunity to intimate his august visitor about the test run of Kings Flour Mill, Onna, one of the investment strides of Governor Udom Emmanuel, adding that the 500 metric tons mill, built on a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model, with hi-tech and fully automated machines, can process 24,000 bags of flour daily and that on full utilization, the mill will create jobs for the teeming youth population with an expansive value chain for the people.