Agribusiness: CBN, Banks commence N26bn pay out to SMEs

The disbursement of credits under the Agribusiness Small and Medium Enterprises Investment Scheme (AGSMEIS) an initiative of the Central Bank of Nigeria in collaboration with Deposit Money Banks has commenced yesterday.

The Bankers’ Committee at its 331st meeting held on February 9, 2017, came up with the AGSMEIS as an initiative to improve access to affordable fifinacing for MSMEs, particularly those operating in the informal sector of the economy and to support the Federal Government’s efforts and policy measures to promote sustainable economic development and employment generation.

All deposit money banks, voluntarily agreed to set aside and contribute 5 percent of their Profifit After Tax (PAT) annually to fifinance eligible projects under the Scheme.

Speaking yesterday at the launch of the program, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele said “the size of the Fund stands at about N26 billion as of today and this is expected to exceed N60 billion by June 2018.”

“I am therefore very delighted that we have come to this stage where we are ready to begin the disbursement of these funds to deserving benefificiaries. These benefificiaries are youths who have been trained on various entrepreneurship, vocational and management skills across the country by Entrepreneurship Development Institutions and Centres, such as Fate Foundation, Lagos Business School, House of Tara and Thrive Agric.”the governor said

What differenciate this initiative with the past once, Emefiele said upon completion of their vocational training by the beneficiaries, the specifific implements needed to practice their vocations, are procured under the scheme. The benefificiaries’ details including their Biometric Verification Numbers (BVN) are forwarded to the deposit money banks to confifirm that they are their customers before accessing the fund.

Emefiele said  the scheme has three components, under the Direct component the benefificiaries can access loans to a limit of N10 million, at interest rate of 5% per annum and a maximum tenor of up to 7 years. There is also a moratorium period of 18 months on principal and 6 months on interest element, depending on the nature of the business. However, it is mandatory that all loan beneficiaries must have valid BVN, which shall be registered on the National Collateral Registry and used to track repayments and blacklist any defaulters.

Under the Indirect component of the Scheme, beneficiaries can access equity and quasi-equity investments of up to 10 years with an initial lock up period of 3 years before divestment. Finally, the developmental component of the scheme shall be used for capacity building and technical assistance to support beneficiaries.

He said the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) had so far achieved tremendous success in terms of outreach and coverage, making the scheme one of the most successful CBN Development Finance initiatives to date, adding that about N80 billion had been disbursed to over 358,000 small holder farmers in 34 states, cultivating eight commodities.

Speaking on behalf of the Bankers’ Committee, Group Managing Director, Access Bank Plc, Dr. Herbert Wigwe said the Scheme is to help reduce the risk of unemployment in the country and to create jobs for millions of Nigerian youths as part of the corporate responsibility by the banks.

He urged the beneficiaries not to consider the loans as national cake by defaulting in payments, saying that only through the repayment, other people can benefits again.