Kenneth Udeh, Abuja
Thousands of small-business owners, petty traders and artisans in Abia-North senatorial district of Abia State showered encomium of gratitude on the Orji Uzor Kalu Foundation following the successful conclusion of its Small Business Zero Interest-Free Loan scheme.
The Orji Uzor Kalu Foundation (OUKF), a non-business/political entity, had launched the 1st phase of the scheme in January 2018.
The 2nd phase of the business empowerment scheme commenced in August 12, 2019, with the distribution of zero-interest loans worth millions of naira to petty traders and artisans in Abia-North senatorial district in order boost their businesses.
The foundation’s team comprising both staff and volunteers led by its Executive Secretary, Rev Mrs Jemaimah Ola Kalu, a retired permanent secretary, stormed the remote communities/wards in the five local governments of Abia-North to ensure that the funds were distributed to deserving beneficiaries.
In a statement issued on social media, Rev Kalu announced the conclusion of the 2nd phase of the petty traders’ empowerment exercise.
Rev Ola thanked the Chairman of the foundation, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu for his generosity and compassion for the less privileged in the society.
She also extended gratitude to the foundation’s workers and development partners for their contribution to the success of the exercise.
“The second phase of the Orji Uzor Kalu Foundation award to petty traders empowerment programme in the 103 ABSIEC wards (as per the Foundation’s rating) which started on the 12th of August, 2019 from Arochukwu Local Government Area was successfully concluded on Friday, 13th September 2019 at the three ABSIEC wards in Igbere, Bende Local Government of Abia State.
“We hereby thank God for the grace to finish successfully, divine strength and speed, safe journey and protection.
“We thank the Chairman of the Foundation Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, the board of directors, our staff and volunteers, Key Stone Bank staff, Umuahia, especially the branch manager who ensured his staff attended to us very promptly,. We also thank other development partners and all those who upheld us in prayers.”
Also speaking on behalf of thousands of other beneficiaries, Alice Okereke, a community leader in Lokpanta ward while applauded the initiative of the OUKF for its laudable activities in Abia State and beyond, noted that if other well-meaning Nigerians emulate Dr. Orji Kalu, the country would be a better place to live in.
She described the gesture as “life-changing,” adding that with the loan, her business and those of others would definitely grow beyond expectation.
She said: “We know Orji Kalu for his good works and passion for the people. He is a giver and a man with compassion, I must confess.”
The Foundation was granted a Special Consultative status by the United Nations NGO branch (Office of the ECOSOC Support and Coordination) on the 26th of July, 2017.
Over the years, the OUKF has been involved in numerous empowerment programmes by giving free palm seedlings for farmers, free medical outreach, peace initiatives programmes, youth empowerment summits, scholarship awards, cultural/tourism promotion activities , and other social investment programmes in line with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals Agenda 2030.