Kwara State government has urged business owners in the state to take the chance of World Bank $20million loan earmarked for the state so as to cushion the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on their businesses.
The Acting General Manager of the State’s Social Investment Programmes (KWASSIP), Mr. Brimah Muhammad made the charge in Ilorin during the sensitisation programme on Kwara NG-CARES for MSMEs.
According to him, “We are here today for a town hall sensitisation meeting on MSMEs across Kwara State to let them know about the CARES/World Bank programme. It is COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus Programme which is set up to support MSMEs in various sectors and in various ways due to COVID-19 pandemic, the losses they may have incurred during that period.”
Muhammad added, “What we intend to achieve here is to enlighten MSMEs across Kwara state on how to apply. The eligibility criteria to apply for the support the World Bank, the federal government and the state government are providing to them. It is a loan from the World Bank to the federal government to the tune of about $750million and in turn, the federal government is also loaning the 36 states and FCT to the tune of about $20million per state.
“This will be shared across different result areas, which include social intervention support (result area one), food security (result area two) and MSMEs. This is where we are coming in because we are partnering with the Bank of Industry which is the implementing partner with World Bank to implement this result area three. This is targeted at MSMEs. It is going to cover both the formal and informal businesses.”
“We need to enlighten them on how to apply, the eligibility criteria, which each category of businesses will benefit in terms of the grant sizes available and the major business disbursement link indicators (DLI) that we are targeting. These include businesses that collected loans during the COVID-19 period. The plan is to offset 40 per cent of the loans they’ve collected.”
He stressed, “We have the second DLI which is supporting the overhead costs of businesses. Basically, these include the operational costs, salaries, utility bills, security bills and that of alternative power. And the third is the technology support to businesses. We need to advance businesses like hardware and software and other devices.
“The turnout was very impressive. We invited representatives of clusters of businesses and associations across the state. We also have members of transition implementation committees and other agencies relatively dealing with SMEs in Kwara State.”
Speaking on the operational support grant, the official in charge of Disbursement Link Indicator 2, Mr. Jaye Jegede explained that the programme would support the government’s interventions that help MSEs retain their staff and operational costs.
He said, “Grant to MSEs to cover 50 per cent of the operational costs, including staff salaries, documented utilities, documented private security expenses, rent and mini solar panel acquisition expenses. Under DLI 2, it will be targeted at formal/informal micro, small and medium enterprises who are involved in active commercial activity within the state.”
In an interview with newsmen, the Director-General, State Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (KWACCIMA), Ayo Fagbemi commended the state government for the laudable sensitisation programme, describing Kwara NG-CARES as a soft landing for business owners to cushion the effects of COVID-19 on businesses.
“We have been told of the benefits derivable from the Kwara NG-CARES for MSMEs. This sensitisation programme is a laudable one, provided it will be carried out immediately. It is one good thing for the government to have a good programme but the execution was usually the problem,” he said.
Chairman Nigeria Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, Tajudeen Ajisefini urged the state government to partner with relevant associations in the screening process of the applicants to bring development and relief to MSMEs in the state.
“We are concerned about how the petty traders will be able to access the application online. I want the organisers to put that into consideration. I still want the government to collaborate with organised associations that are directly involved in the affected businesses so that the right people will be the right beneficiaries, “he said.