Speaking during the presentation of the cheques to beneficiaries of the scheme in Benin City on Monday, Oshiomhole said: “The whole idea is to help you sustain or advance your businesses and your cooperative society. The 18 Local Government Areas and the 192 wards are well represented.”
He enjoined the beneficiaries to use the funds judiciously for the purpose for which it was given, saying “It is our hope and prayer that you use the money judiciously. It is meant not to improve the quality of soup today, but to lay a foundation that will lead to improvement in the quality of soup. So, the money mustn’t be diverted to catfish or grass cutter.
“Our husbands must be properly briefed that this fund is meant to set up or sustain a business. Every kobo out of it must be judiciously used. That is the only way the intention of the State Government can be fulfilled, and the prayers of our President, President Muhammadu Buhari can be achieved to empower the Nigerian woman to be stronger and to contribute to economic growth and development.”
He added: “What we are trying to do is to help you solve the problems that afflict a lot of small scale businesses, namely access to credit. I hope having made the fund available, you will also use it strictly for the purpose for which it was meant. A journey of a million miles begins with one correct step. Let it be said that today, you made the first step, and hopefully in the very near future, you will get there.”
To the micro-finance houses in partnership with the State Government on the scheme, Oshiomhole said: “You have been identified and chosen on the basis of your track record. I believe you that you don’t need to be told that you have no choice but to live up to the expectation of government as well as the promoters of the various small and micro credit businesses.
“We have done it this way and eliminated the official government bureaucracy so that these funds can be managed professionally without any political coloration. I would like to urge you to do everything you can to produce a win-win outcome and that we will have a basis to continue to do business with you.
Speaking earlier, Chairman of Edo State Economic Team, Mr. Godwin Obaseki said the scheme was a grassroots empowerment initiative designed to provide access to funds for small business operators, “This event which we have titled ‘Grassroots Empowerment Initiative of the Edo State Government’ is a N2 billion naira fund which has been designed by the federal government in collaboration with Edo State Government to give micro, medium and small enterprises money for their businesses. This facility is to enable small and micro businesses be included in our financial system. The way this fund has been structured has been deliberate. We have gone round the 18 LGAs of Edo State, using the micro-finance banks located in each local government.”
According to him, “these funds have been made available to members of cooperatives who can borrow as much as N5 million for their cooperatives, for individuals who can borrow between N50,000 and N500,000; and also for medium businesses who can borrow up to N10 milliorking with all the micro-finance banks in Edo State, we screened over thirty thousand applications, and we are happy to announce that we have approved through the micro-finance banks over ten thousand applicants for this scheme. Of the ten thousand people who are qualified, 8,000 of them are women. The different businesses that are involved include petty trading, distribution business, agriculture and people who are processing agriculture.”