Forum Creates Fund For SMEs

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The Africa Leadership Forum (ALF) has created a State Growth Enterprise Development (STAGE) fund to assist state governments to access loans for small and medium-scale businesses.

A statement issued by ALF spokesman, Mr Kunle Somorin, in Abuja on Friday said that state governments, commercial and microfinance banks would partner to provide loans for trainees under the Entrepreneurship Development Project (EDP).

The statement said that the programme was being implemented on behalf of the Central Bank of Nigeria for the South-west geo-political zone.

“The first ‘STAGE Fund’ was concluded on Thursday in Ado-Ekiti when the Ekiti State Government, ALF and First Bank signed a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding.

“It would make indigenes of Ekiti State have access to a maximum of N5 million each to start their own businesses after training,’’ it said.

It said that the project was aimed at actualising the dreams of 97 aspiring entrepreneurs of the state who wished to go into small and medium-scale businesses under the aegis of the Ekiti State Entrepreneurship Development Project (EEDP).

“The second phase of the training for 103 graduates of the state is due to commence shortly,’’ it added.

The statement said that the state government had promised to bankroll their start-up capital with a 10 per cent interest rate.

It added that the disbursement of the loan would be monitored by both the EEDP and the ALF.

The statement further explained that the first batch of business plans had been submitted for risk analysis and assessment after which disbursement would follow.