Small and medium scale business operators in the state will, from next year, benefit from the N5 billion under the Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (MSMEs) Development Fund of the Bank of Industry (BoI).
The Executive Chairman, Akwa Ibom Investment Corporation (AKICORP), Dr. Elijah Akpan, announcing this during an SME Development Roundtable held in Uyo, organised by Akwa Ibom Young Professionals Leadership Initiative (AK-PRO), recalled that in 2012 the State Government and the Bank of Industry (BoI) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the establishment of the fund.
Dr. Akpan acknowledged the existence of the agreement in which the State Government and BoI were to contribute N2.5 billion each to the fund for on-lending to indigenous entrepreneurs at single digit interest rate.
According to the document, the fund was, however, not operational because the state Government did not pay its counterpart funding due to dwindling revenue, expressing optimism that the Udom Emmanuel administration would, in line with its industrialisation drive, soon make the fund operational.
Presenting a paper entitled ‘Viable SME Opportunities in AKS’, Dr. Akpan, who lauded the effort of AK-PRO for the initiative, described the event’s theme: “SME Development – The Pathway to Industrialisation” as apt considering the focus of the present administration.
Dr Akpan has, therefore, urged SMEs in the State to participate in the industrialisation programme of the State Government, either as investment promoters by introducing genuine local or foreign investors or preparing and furnishing AKICORP with feasibility studies of preferred industries as well as business plan.
Reiterating AKICORP’s commitment to making possible every opportunity for the SMEs to thrive and grow from strength to strength in the State, AKICORP Chairman said they can also participate in the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Programme by co-investing in any industry of interest to them.
The Executive Secretary of AK-PRO, Mr. Idong Udofot, said the event was aimed at, among other things, providing market linkage opportunities for SMEs in the State and creating access to funding opportunities.