By Adewale Sanyaolu
In its effort to encourage entrepreneurship in the Niger Delta region, the Bank of Industry (BoI) and Bayelsa State government have unveiled a N2 billion Micro Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) matching development fund for entrepreneurs in the zone.
The N2 billion matching fund is aimed at supporting entrepreneurs in Bayelsa as part of efforts to encourage value-addition to the nation’s natural resource endowments.
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 Seriake 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 was 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 microfinance 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.”
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.