As part of efforts to grow micro and small enterprises, Bayelsa State Governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson on Wednesday disbursed the sum of N5million as soft loan to Kpansia market traders in the Yenagoa metropolis.
The disbursement, which is being midwifed by the state-owned Izon-Ebe Micro Finance Bank, is coming barely a week after a similar interest-free loan facility was released to some beneficiaries of the economic empowerment scheme at the famous Swali Market in the state capital.
Speaking with newsmen during a brief ceremony to flag-off the disbursement at the corporate headquarters of the bank in Yenagoa, the Secretary/Legal Adviser of Izon-Ebe MicroFinance Bank, Ms Patience Abah, disclosed that a total of 600 traders from the Kpansia Market have been penciled down as beneficiaries.
Out of this number, she said 200 have been picked as first batch beneficiaries of the revolving loan with a moratorium of six months, during which period, they are expected to build up their capital before repaying the facility.
According to Ms Abah, the loan is different from other ongoing empowerment programmes in the state, such as the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Development Fund, describing the disbursement as a fulfilment of an earlier promise the Governor made to the traders when he visited them.
While commending Governor Dickson for releasing the funds in the face of the current harsh economic realities, she urged the beneficiaries to make judicious use of the loan and keep faith with the repayment arrangement to enable others benefit from the scheme.
She said, "We are grateful, first of all, to our Governor, Hon Seriake Dickson for the effort that has been made. I agree that obviously, five million naira is not going to solve all of their (traders) needs. But it is just a start; a very good start. It is for people to know and appreciate the effort he (the governor) is making to be sure that people have access to capital, which is so key because without capital, you can never start or grow in business.
"There has been a lot of talk that has been going on about various loan schemes. So there shouldn't be any confusion out there. This one today is a specific loan promised by the Governor to assist the Kpansia Market Traders. We also have the MSME Development Fund. That is not to be confused with what is happening here today.
"About a week ago, the governor fulfilled his promise to the Swali Market Traders. The promises were made about the same time to the traders at the two markets-Swali and Kpansia. That of Swali has been fulfilled and what we are seeing here today is the fulfilment of the promise to the Kpansia Market Traders.
In an interview, the Leader of Kpansia Market Solidarity Group, Chief (Mrs) Adevuya Otobo expressed gratitude to the governor for identifying with the traders, noting that it was the first time members of the association were benefiting such support from any government.
Assuring that beneficiaries would properly utilise the facility to grow their businesses and repay accordingly, Chief Otobo prayed God to bless the governor to enable him succeed in his second term bid.
Other beneficiaries including Mrs Suzzy Okorie, Kpenseme Wilcox, Martha Rufus and Madam Teme Patrick lauded Governor Dickson for fulfilling his promise, but appealed for the sustenance of the scheme to promote trading activities among Bayelsa women.
Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Bayelsa State