By Tony Obiechina, Abuja
No fewer than 3,256 individuals and businesses affected by the negative impact of the coronavirus pandemic have started benefiting from the first tranche of the fund disbursement by the NIRSAL Microfinance Bank’s N50 billion Credit Facility.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, had set aside the sum of N50 billion to be disbursed through the NIRSAL Microfinance bank as loans to individuals and small businesses to cushion the negative effects of the lock down.
Speaking while flagging of the first tranche of the loan disbursements in Abuja on Thursday, the Managing Director of NIRSAL MFB, Mr Abubakar Kure disclosed that as of April 14, over 80,000 applications had been received from businesses and individuals for the N50 billion credit facility
He explained that the facility was not a grant but a loan to be repaid back adding that the bank was committed to ensuring that only individuals and businesses adversely affected by the health crisis would benefit from the fund.
Kure further stated that through the disbursement, those who benefitted would resume productive activities as the economy begins a phased reopening after the lockdown.
The Bank Managing Director said “the idea of this fund is to provide cash flow owing to the lockdown and the restrictions in movement of people. The flag-off is intended to provide liquidity following cash flow issues as a result of the negative impact of COVID-19.”
The CBN had introduced the N50bn Targeted Credit Facility as a stimulus package to support households and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Based on the guidelines released by the CBN, those that can benefit from the fund are households with verifiable evidence of livelihood adversely impacted by COVID-19 and existing enterprises with verifiable evidence of activities adversely affected as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the CBN guideline, activities covered under the scheme include agricultural value chain activities; hospitality (accommodation and food services); health (pharmaceuticals and medical supplies); and airline service providers.
Others are manufacturing/value addition; trading and any other income generating activities as may be prescribed by the CBN.
He urged beneficiaries to use the amount for the purpose it was collected because the bank would ensure that all those who took the loans must repay what they took.
Kure said, “This is not a grant; it is a credit facility intended to cushion the impact of COVID-19 on businesses particularly the SMEs. The SMEs are the engine of any economy because they provide employment and taxes to government.
“We urge people to apply. You don’t need to know anybody before you apply and once you qualify, you will be given the loan.”
The N50 billion intervention is being financed from the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund.
In terms of loan limit, the loan amount would be determined based on the activity, cash flow and industry size of beneficiary, subject to a maximum of N25 million for the SMEs.
Households could access a maximum of N3 million while working capital would be a maximum of 25 per cent of the average of the previous three years’ annual turnover.