By Omodele Adigun
The framework for the disbursement of the N26.87 billion contributed into the Agriculture/Small and Medium Enterprises (AGSME) Investment Scheme by 21 banks has been released by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
In a statement yesterday, the apex bank said that a special purpose vehicle (SPV) named Bankers’ Fund Managers Limited, shall manage the scheme, while the Board of Directors (BoD) monitors the implementation of the scheme.
“Activities to benefit from the scheme include agricultural investments such as production, storage, processing, logistics and marketing, while SMEs in the real and services sectors, which are backward integrated into manufacturing, agriculture, mining and modular refineries, would benefit from the scheme,” it said.
“Also included are technological endeavours such as local initiatives in information and communication technology (ICT) and any other activities as may be determined by the Bankers’ Committee from time to time.
“This new initiative, targeted at start-ups and expansion of established companies or reviving ailing companies, is expected to further enhance job creation and agri-business towards sustainable economy.
“The scheme, which set maximum investment in a single project to the tune of N2 billion, shall be operated for a period of 10 years (not exceeding 2027) in the first instance, subject to review after five years of its operations.
“Also, there shall be an initial three-year lock up period before exit in order to encourage value creation and boost managerial capacity of SMEs unless there is a material adverse event,” the CBN said in the framework.
The objective of AGSME is to catalyse growth in SMEs to ease access to finance, build capacity in the agriculture and SME sectors, create jobs and ultimately to improve prosperity.
AGSME is a brainchild of the Bankers’ Committee in collaboration with the CBN, the highest contributor to the fund. At its launch last year at the Bankers’ Committee Retreat in Lagos, the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, said the initiative would “dwell on improving the productivity of farmers, manufacturers and firms, as well as their access to finance, in order to produce goods and services that can be made in Nigeria, thereby improving job creation and growth for the nation as a whole,” he said.
Emefiele stated that the two sectors – agriculture and the manufacturing sectors – were central to the country’s recovery efforts.
“They are recognised worldwide as catalysts for rapid growth, job creation and poverty reduction. Agriculture, for example, remains the largest employer of labour in Nigeria and contributes about 24.2 per cent of our GDP,” Emefiele explained.