The Chairman, Bank of Industry (BoI), Alhaji Aliyu Dikko, Wednesday disclosed that the bank has committed $700 million (about N2.4 billion) to empower Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) across six states in the North-east region.
He said the North-East Rehabilitation Fund, an initiative of the bank to mitigate the impact of insurgency in the region, had helped to reach 110,000 MSMEs.
The six North-east states currently benefiting from the bank’s intervention include Borno, Adamawa, Yobe, Bauchi, Gombe and Taraba.
He noted that the initiative was part of strategies to reduce the level of poverty in the region, following over a decade of insurgency.
Speaking at a BoI round-table on investment in communities affected by the Boko Haram conflict, Dikko said the bank intervention fund would enable it to transform the region by supporting businesses with easily accessible zero interest loans.
He added that the fund had been tailored to meet the peculiar needs of the region as it was being fashioned under the framework of the TraderMoni initiative.
Dikko said out of the 110,000 MSMEs already enumerated, 3,500 had already received a micro credit of N10, 000 each to enable them start a sustainable business and continue with their lives after the damage and disruption caused by the insurgency.
This is as the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Mr. Rachid Benmessaoud, said rebuilding lives in the North-east region required a comprehensive response involving the private sector, noting that “it is a Nigerian problem which require Nigerian solution.”
He said there is need for a substantial change to make an impact, especially scaling up the programmes.
Nevertheless, Dikko said the damage caused by the conflict to education and health facilities, markets and farms, infrastructure, loss of job opportunities and the psychological impact of the crisis had resulted in the region suffering an estimated output loss of ₦1.66 trillion, with worsening inflation.
He said with the loss of markets, damage to trade infrastructure and the impact on agriculture and livelihoods, the North-east would continue to feel the economic impact of the crisis for many years.
However, the bank boss said: “Given our mandate to stimulate economic growth and sustainable industrial development, the BoI has embarked on an economic revival plan for the North-east region.
According to him, “Our objective is to stem the spate of poverty and reduce the reliance of the indigenes on humanitarian aid.
“In the last four years, the bank has provided financial support amounting to ₦678 billion to over two million enterprises in the country, creating over five million jobs.
“A major part of these jobs were created using the TraderMoni model which is a federal government scheme targeted at micro-businesses particularly petty traders.
“We would leverage on this model in the North-eastern states, specifically those sub-regions where the most impact can be made.
“We started with a plan to empower a hundred thousand micro small and medium entrepreneurs.
“BoI’s commitment is all-encompassing and recognizes the need to invest in all states where the economic activities need to be revived.”
On her part, Executive Director, Micro Enterprises, BoI, Mrs. Toyin Adeniji, said the Northeast had become a hotspot for conflict resolution and developmental interventions, which had reached almost six million people by 2018.