Kwara re­al­ized N1.2bn turnover on mi­cro­cre­dit in­ter­ven­tion scheme – Soewu

Daily Trust - - BUSINESS -

Mr. Oluse­gun Soewu is the tech­ni­cal ad­viser to the Ex­ec­u­tive Gover­nor of Kwara state on Small and Medium En­ter­prises De­vel­op­ment, and on Agri­cul­ture. In this in­ter­view, Soewu spoke on the suc­cesses recorded on the entrepreneurship scheme the state gov­ern­ment in­tro­duced, and on other SMEs plans

As has al­ways been ad­vised by ex­perts, states seem to be key­ing into the Entrepreneurship scheme as the way out of eco­nomic chal­lenges. How is the scheme far­ing in Kwara?

What we have in Kwara state is called the Kwara Mi­cro Credit In­ter­ven­tion Scheme un­der which we have four win­dows which in­clude the agric win­dow and trans­port win­dows. Un­der the trans­port win­dow, ben­e­fi­cia­ries can get mo­tor­cy­cles, taxi cabs and buses. There is also the ar­ti­san fund and fund for trade and com­merce.

Over the last four years we have been able to tackle the fund­ing chal­lenges of mi­cro and small busi­nesses. O f course, at ev­ery point in life, money is not al­ways enough in any econ­omy.

Thank­fully, we are get­ting en­cour­ag­ing re­sponses from ben­e­fi­cia­ries, which was why we came up with the Kwara Next entrepreneurship pro­gramme, in which the state gov­ern­ment has in­vested N150 mil­lion. From this, we hope to ser­vice peo­ple with re­quests of up to N3m to N10m.

The money for the Kwara Next en­tre­pre­neur has been de­posited into the Bank of In­dus­try. We are only wait­ing to kick-start the pro­gramme.

Who are the ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the Kwara Mi­cro Credit In­ter­ven­tion Scheme?

They cut across classes, and that is why I said we have four win­dows. We have given to agric and we have man­aged the off-taker-driven agric scheme. The ar­ti­san group gets a ded­i­ca­tion of N100m. Un­der the trans­port scheme, we have given out more than 150 taxis, 25 buses and 200 mo­tor­cy­cles.

How much does a ben­e­fi­ciary get un­der the scheme?

The amount is not fixed. We look at the de­mand of ap­pli­cants and the type of busi­ness they want to in­vest in to de­ter­mine how much to be given to them. We also look at their chal­lenges in terms of the busi­ness they are into. The max­i­mum amount we give is dis­cre­tionary in the sense that we look at what ap­pli­cants are do­ing, go to their places of work, as­sess their en­vi­ron­ment and ask ques­tions on those ar­eas and take it up af­ter the as­sess­ment.

What are the terms and con­di­tions for as­sess­ing the credit?

We charge per cent in­ter­est on what­ever ap­pli­cants col­lect per an­num and we ex­pect them to pay back the fund in one year spread across the 12 months, af­ter which ben­e­fi­cia­ries are al­lowed to reap­ply for another credit.

How much has the state gov­ern­ment ex­pended so far on the scheme?

The state gov­ern­ment has spent N695m on the scheme and has got a turnover of N1.202bn.

So what have been the con­tri­bu­tions of the cap­tains of in­dus­try, if any, to the entrepreneurship pro­gramme?

We part­ner with them, in a way, be­cause of their vast ex­pe­ri­ence in in­vest­ment and busi­ness. These peo­ple will help us talk to the ap­pli­cants and give them pro­fes­sional ad­vice on how much they re­ally need for their busi­nesses. They will ad­vise them to ei­ther re­duce or in­crease the amount they ap­ply for. They also share their wealth of ex­pe­ri­ence with the ap­pli­cants and to also let peo­ple know that the pro­gramme is open to ev­ery­body in the state and that there will be no favouritism in giv­ing out credit to ap­pli­cants.

These cap­tains of in­dus­try do not have any fi­nan­cial con­tri­bu­tion into the pro­gramme, though. It is fully funded by the Kwara state gov­ern­ment.

Is the state gov­ern­ment get­ting sup­port from any quar­ter for the pro­gramme?

For now, we are not en­joy­ing any part­ner­ship with any pri­vate sec­tor player, but we hope to get. We are, how­ever, work­ing with mi­cro­fi­nance banks that dis­burse the money to our ap­pli­cants. We are also open to sup­port and part­ner­ship.

Is there room for ex­pan­sion of the scheme, in terms of in­creas­ing the fund?

When we started the Kwara

5 And we make use of se­lected mi­cro­fi­nance banks in the lo­cal­ity close to the peo­ple at the grass­roots for them to as­sess the fund easily.

How do farm­ers ac­cess their own fund in the agric win­dow? Do you buy farm tools for them or give them money to pur­chase what they need for farm­ing?

They come to us as a co­op­er­a­tive and we give them small amounts to clear the land, af­ter which we in­spect the land to know if they have ac­tu­ally got­ten the same mea­sure­ment of land they col­lected money for. The whole idea of the agric win­dow is to pro­duce, not to waste, be­cause what­ever the farm­ers pro­duce would be bought by off-tak­ers be­fore they harvest them. We have what is called the off-tak­ers agric de­mand sys­tem in place. We have an agro mall some­where around the Min­istry of Agric; it is a vir­tual of­fice where you have buy­ers of agric pro­duce, banks nom­i­nated by the Kwara State gov­ern­ment, agric in­put providers such as seeds, fer­til­iz­ers, chem­i­cals and all that, and ex­ten­sion.

For in­stance, if an off­taker wants a hun­dred tons of what­ever items, the cost­ing would be done at the agric mall, be­fore which the vol­ume of land for the prod­uct must have been de­ter­mined. The state gov­ern­ment through the mi­cro­cre­dit will now pay for ev­ery­thing and mon­i­tor it from the clear­ing of the land till the harvest when the off­taker will take the prod­uct. Why we are do­ing this is be­cause farm­ers are not able to stock for too long, so rather than stock and their pro­duce de­cay later, the pro­duce are taken im­me­di­ately.

What mon­i­tor­ing mea­sure did you put in place to safe­guard the ben­e­fi­cia­ries from mis­us­ing the fund?

We don’t dis­burse di­rectly from our of­fice here. We do that through the mi­cro­fi­nance banks and there is an agree­ment be­tween us that the fund must be re­cov­ered by the banks. We have done it in such way that ben­e­fi­cia­ries ac­cess fund at banks clos­est to their place of busi­ness. So the mon­i­tor­ing is largely done by the banks.

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