By Senator Iroegbu in Abuja
The government of Ebonyi State and Bank of Industry (BOI) have agreed to a N2 billion matching fund aimed at youth empowerment and job creation through support for Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) as well as exploration of solid minerals.
This was the highlight of the meeting yesterday between the Governor of Ebonyi State, Mr. David Umahi and Managing Director of BOI, Mr. Olukayode Pitan at the organisation’s headquarters in Abuja.
Umahi noted that the money of which the state will bring a counterpart fund of N1 billion to match with the BOI’s N1 billion equivalent, was to help the youth and civil servants in the state own and engage in a decent income generating projects.
He said: “We are going to match it up with N1 billion which has been made available and BOI will match it up with N1 billion, which would be utulised in areas like poultry farming through cooperatives.
“This N2bn matching fund is to empower our people. You know there are a lot of our people in Lagos and other major cities hawking. So we want to bring them back and train them.Â We already have about 1000 of them… our attention is now geared towards training and empowering our people… “
The governor also asked the Bank to assist the state to explore its vast solid mineral resources and see how it can be maximised for the benefit the state, its people and the country at large.
Umahi noted that studies are needed in the area of solid minerals, saying that Ebonyi has untapped “a very karge deposit of solid minerals”.
“We have the largest salt deposit in Nigeria and West Africa. We have the largest deposit of lead and zinc and we can supply the whole country all the needed limestones”.
In the same vein, Pitan assured the Governor of the willingness of BOI to partner with the state in providingÂ the matching funds for the SMEs and also in the exploration of the solid minerals.
He disclosed that already the bank was engaged in one form of projects to another in about 20 states of the federation through the matching funds scheme.Â
He said that the BOI is committed to SMEs and industrial growth in the country and have a set target of N500 to N1 trillion in the next two years to fund various projects at a 10 per cent loan rate.
According to him, “many SMEs are facing challenges all over the country. Many companies are enamored with so much running cost that they cannot even make profit”.
“So we are looking at how we can raise about N500 billion to N1 trillion within two years to support industries at a rate not exceeding 10 percent,” he said.