Twenty cooperatives societies in Akwa Ibom State are beneficiaries in the first batch of theÂ N460 million loans disbursedÂ by Gufax Micro Finance Bank (MFB) under the N220 billion Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund and facilitated by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to boost economic activities across the country. Under the scheme, 60 percent of the fund has been set aside for women groups involved in farming agriculture and small scale businesses. The funds were disbursed after the cooperative societies were assessed and evaluated by Quintessential Women Business Association (QWBA), a Non-Governmental Organisation working with womenÂ inÂ all the 774 local government areas in the country.
Among the beneficiaries were Abasiotoyo women Multipurpose Cooperative Society (MPCS), digital ladies MPC, Ekemini Iban Atan Essien, Mbiaso and Friends of the Needy MPCS. Others include Nka Iberedem Ikot Ewanag MPC, Nka Ikemesit Iban, Akai MPCS, Royal women MPCS and Superior farms MPCS among others. The cooperatives received cheques ranging from one million naira to N5million with Ekemini Iban Attan Essien, Mbiaso, receiving N2.5 million as a loan to boost theirÂ business.
Speaking while presenting the cheques, Uduak Udo, Managing Director of Gufax MFB,Â urged the benefitting cooperative societies not toÂ see the loan as a grant but as a loan which should be paid back according to the terms of the scheme. Udo who pledged to work with the cooperatives to achieve the goals of the scheme said the second batch of the disbursement would commence as soon as the verification and screening of more cooperative societies were completed adding that the total package of the loan approved by the CBN stood at N7.1 billion.
â€œAs soon as we complete this batch, we will begin with the next batch and we have a total package of N7.1 billion for at least fifty cooperative societies in all the 31 local government areas of the state. The loan is for one year tenure, when you repay it, we will roll it out for you to qualify for the next round and the interest rate is 9 percent per,â€™â€™ he said.
In her remarks, Shimite Katung, National President of QBWA expressed delight that the scheme had finally taken off in the state after much delay. She reminded the women that there would be no excuse for the non-repayment of the loan adding that CBN would equally be delighted over the success of the scheme and promised to ensure that other cooperative societies from other states of the federationÂ were also beneficiaries of the scheme.
Thanking the facilitating agencies, Uduak Kingsley Akpan of Ekemini Iban Atan Essien Mbiaso expressed happiness that the loan would assist themÂ expand their poultry business adding it would help them â€˜â€™bring in additional 3,000 birdsâ€™â€™Â for their poultry farm which according to her now stands at 800 birds.
Source: Business Day