The Orji Uzor Kalu Foundation (OUKF) has disbursed zero interest-free loans to petty traders in Umunneochi local government area of Abia State.
According to a statement, the foundation on Monday presented N20, 000 cash to each of the 575 beneficiaries of the gesture drawn from Umuchieze, Isuochi and Nnaeto.
Speaking with a cross-section of journalists during the launch of the programme at Lokpanta, Executive Secretary of OUKF, Mrs. Jemimah Kalu, was quoted in the statement, to have stressed that the free interest loan will boost business activities and ultimately improve the well-being of the beneficiaries.
She said: â€œThe gesture is a way to engage and empower the vulnerable in the society especially the youth in productive activities.
â€œBefore the end of the week, we shall extend the loan scheme to Isiukwato, Arochukwu and Ohafia LGAs.
â€œIt is important to note that this laudable project was initiated by our founder and Chairman, who is also a former Governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Kalu in 1996 and ever since, the scheme has been sustained.
â€œThe beneficiaries of the free interest loan have their existing businesses and have demonstrated a high level of determination to make shrewd use of the funds in advancing their businesses.
â€œWe shall, very soon, extend the empowerment scheme to other parts of the country as over N2billion has been earmarked for the project.â€
While encouraging beneficiaries of the scheme to be more committed to their businesses, Kalu declared that in no distant time, other empowerment programmes of the OUKF would be rolled out, which will be targeted at the aged and physically challenged.
Applauding the initiative, a community leader in Lekwesi ward, Ebere Chuks, commended OUKF for its laudable activities in Abia State and beyond, noting that if other well meaning Nigerians emulate Dr. Orji Kalu, the country will be a better place to live.
In her remarks, a beneficiary of the scheme from Lokpanta, Alice Okereke described the gesture as â€œlife changingâ€, adding with the loan, her business will definitely grow beyond her expectation.