By Etuka Sunday
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in collaboration with Bankers Committee yesterday disbursed the sum of N113million to the first set of beneficiaries under the Agribusiness/Small and Medium Enterprises Investment Scheme (AGSMEIS).
CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele who flagged off the disbursements in Abuja, charged the beneficiaries to take full advantage of the Scheme to better their lives.
Emefiele said, the rate of unemployment made the parties to decide during the 2016 Bankers’ Committee Retreat, to design and fund a suitable scheme that will not only reduce the huge financing gap for Macro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), but also fully commits to the pursuits of job creation, financial inclusion and inclusive growth for Nigerians, particularly the teeming youth population.
He said: “It was on this premise that the Bankers’ Committee at its 331st meeting held on February 9, 2017, came up with the Agribusiness Small and Medium Enterprises Investment Scheme (AGSMEIS) as an initiative to improve access to affordable financing for MSMEs, particularly those operating in the informal sector of the economy and to support the Federal Government’s efforts and policy measures to promote sustainable economic development and employment generation.
“As a commitment, to the successful implementation of the Scheme, all deposit money banks, voluntarily agreed to set aside and contribute 5 percent of their Profit After Tax (PAT) annually to finance eligible projects under the Scheme. As at today, the size of the Fund stands at about N26 billion and this is expected to exceed N60 billion by June 2018,” he said.
The CBN boss expressed satisfaction with the current stage of disbursement.
“ I am therefore very delighted that we have come to this stage where we are ready to begin the disbursement of these funds to deserving beneficiaries.
“These beneficiaries are youths who have been trained on various entrepreneurship, vocational and management skills across the country by Entrepreneurship Development Institutions and Centres, such as Fate Foundation, Lagos Business School, House of Tara and Thrive Agric.
“Upon completion of their vocational training, the specific implements needed to practice their vocations, are procured under the scheme. The beneficiaries’ details including their Biometric Verification Numbers (BVN) are forwarded to the deposit money banks to confirm that they are their customers before accessing the fund.
“It is indeed an auspicious occasion as the outcome of today’s engagement is expected, in no half measures, to significantly, reduce youth unemployment and restiveness,” he said.Rolling out the conditions, the governor noted that, “under the Direct component of the AGSMEIS, beneficiaries can access loans to a limit of N10 million, at interest rate of 5% per annum and a maximum tenor of up to 7 years. There is also a moratorium period of 18 months on principal and 6 months on interest element, depending on the nature of the business.
“However, it is mandatory that all loan beneficiaries must have valid BVN, which shall be registered on the National Collateral Registry and used to track repayments and blacklist any defaulters,” he said.
Speaking on behalf of the Bankers Committee, the Managing Director, Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB), Mr Segun Agbaje urged the beneficiaries to use the funds judiciously so as pay back as and when due.
Mr Agbaje assured that several of the intervention would be initiated by the Committee with the support of CBN to take Nigerian youth off the street.