Some small and medium entrepreneurs in Lagos on Tuesday expressed concern over their inability to access the Federal Government’s N220 billion bailout loans for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund(MSMEDF).
They said in separate interviews that the process of accessing the loans to expand their businesses was cumbersome and impossible.
Segun Kuti-George, Chairman, Nigerian Association of Small Scale Industrialists (NASSI), Lagos Chapter, said that none of his members had been able to access the government loans.
He said that the association has taken deliberate efforts to assist its members in writing presentable proposals submitted to the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (SMEDAN) for processing.
Kuti-George said that the slow disbursement of the loans had made most SME operators to lose confidence in the scheme.
“Up till now, we just hear that some amount has been disbursed to some SMEs. We don’t know the people who have received the funds, because I don’t think any of our members have accessed any loans.
“I am also an industrialist, and I have only accessed this loans once, a very long time ago, from a development bank.
“Most people seem to be losing hope in the loans already, especially from the Bank of Industry and the MSME loans,” he said.
Also speaking, Mr Olufemi Egbesola, President, Association of Small Business Owners, (ASBON), said that none of the members of the association has accessed any loans.
He said that the announcement of the N220 billion loan brought relief to members of the association, which is also a registered cooperative, but none of the members has accessed the loans.
He said that most of the small scale operators have turned to relatives to get funds to start or expand their businesses, since the government loans were not forthcoming.
“It is just banks that have been coming to our rescue with some loans, and some of our SME operators have been making efforts to get the loans.
“To me, I think the process of accessing the loans is too tedious.
“You are asked for this, we bring, tomorrow they ask for something else, collateral documents and so on, even after fulfilling all the requirements, we still have not heard anything,” Egbesola said.
Prince Saviour Iche, president, Association of Micro Entrepreneurs of Nigeria (AMEN), also said that none of the members of the association had accessed part of the MSMEDF loan.
He said that efforts had been made in form of protests, letters to relevant agencies, to alert them on the need to fast-track the disbursement of the loans, but it did not yield any results.
Mr Paul Ugbajeh, a bottled water producer in the Matori Industrial Estate, said that he had tried to process the loans through two different microfinance banks, to no avail.
“I have tried to access the loans to expand my business, by applying to two different microfinance banks but I have been denied.
“I have provided all the required documents, but have heard nothing from them, and I keep asking.
“I had to approach a friend of mine because there are prospects in water and Ice block business that I want to expand into,” he said.
SMEDAN had earlier said that the disbursement of the MSMEDF loan had been put on hold by most microfinance banks because of some logistics issues.
Yinka Fisher, Lagos state coordinator of SMEDAN told NAN recently that some of the SME operators have been nursing the belief that the loans were free, and this had caused some conflict.
Fisher said that SMEDAN had been trying to address the conflict by getting into talks with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
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