60% Women to Benefit from CBN’s N220bn Empowerment Fund


Olakiitan Victor in Ado Ekiti

About 60% of Nigerian women are to benefit from the N220 billionloan scheme rolled out by the Central Bank of Nigeria to strengthen micro small and medium scale enterprises(MSME) in the country.

A CBN official, Mr.Babatunde Ogunlaja disclosed this in Ado Ekiti on while interacting with prospective beneficiaries of thescheme, comprising farmers, business men and women artisans and unemployed youths.

Ogunlaja said the high percentage was allotted to women because available data showed that they comply in loan repayment more than men.

The CBN official said a sum of N63 billion had since been disbursed since March, 2016 out of which N5 billion was given to 80,000 farmers in Kebbi State to shore up rice production in the country, so that Nigeria can stop relying on importation of food.

He said the interest rate has been pegged at 9 % for easy repayment of the loan that was intended to develop the economy.

“Over one trillion naira has been expended by CBN for various intervention programmes in the areas of MSME, infrastructure, and agriculture, but it pains us that most of our agriculture products have not reached the processing unit let alone storage.

“Having found that out people don’t want to pay back loans, the loans shall be disbursed through registered cooperative societies and commercial banks that have been given the mandate to pay into individual accounts within five days”, he said.

Ogunlaja said the CBN has also earmarked a sum of N4.4 billion for physically challenged to make them economically relevant and reduce destitution in the system.

Under the youth Entrepreneurship scheme, he said a special programme has been designed for graduate under the NYSC Scheme to boost agro-business, manufacturing and craft.

The Assistant Director, Consumer Protection Department of the CBN, Mrs.BolajiLartey said the bank would effectively play its regulatory role on commercial and micro-finance bank for speedy disbursement of the loan to beneficiaries.

Lartey said no bank will be allowed to overcharge the beneficiaries in terms interest rate, saying over N26 billion has been recouped by CBN being money paid by commercial banks for overcharging their customers.

She appealed to beneficiaries not to see the loan as a national cake, saying doing so could hamper the intervention schemes of the apex bank.

The commissioner for Agriculture in Ekiti, Mr.KehindeOdebunmi , appealed for reduction of the interest rate to 5per cent.