Uche Usim, Abuja
A microfinance bank owned by the Central Bank of Nigeria funded Nigeria Incentive-based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) has received 80,000 applications from Nigerians seeking to borrow from the N50 billion facility earmarked for Micro and Small Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) subsector.
The applications are flowing in barely three weeks after the apex bank released guidelines on how to access the loan.
Managing Director, NIRSAL Microfinance Bank, Mr Abubakar Kure, who gave hints on the number of applicants in a media briefing in Abuja on Tuesday, said the CBN introduced the N50 billion Targeted Credit Facility as a stimulus package to support households and MSMEs smarting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Based on the CBN guidelines, intending beneficiaries must be households or business concerns with verifiable evidence of livelihood adversely impacted by COVID-19; existing enterprises with verifiable evidence of their businesses being vandalised by the pestilence and enterprises with bankable plans to take advantage of opportunities arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The guidelines further noted that activities covered under the scheme include agricultural value chain activities; hospitality (accommodation and food services); health (pharmaceuticals and medical supplies); and airline service providers.
Others are; manufacturing/value addition; trading and any other income generating activities as may be prescribed by the CBN.
Giving a breakdown of the 80,000 applications, NIRSAL boss revealed that 40,000 applications were from households while 30,000 applications were received from Small and Medium Enterprises.
He said the staff were working remotely to ensure that disbursements commence next week to those who met the criteria set for the fund by the apex bank.
Kure who was accompanied to the media by top officials of the apex bank and NIRSAL said, “We have over 80,000 application out of which 40,000 came from households while 30,000 is from SMEs.
“From next week, genuine applicants will start receiving alert for their loans.
“Our people are working remotely and disbursements will start next week.”
On the controversy surrounding the payment of N10,000 for business plan before the loan could be accessed, Kure said the management of the bank no longer considers having a business plan as mandatory but having a bank statement that shows the volume of business an intending beneficiary undertakes.