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First Bank, BoI join AGDC to create 5m jobs with eased lending to MSMEs

Startups in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) now stand a better chance of consolidating earlier than expected as the Bank of Industry (BoI) and After School Graduate Development Centre (AGDC) have teamed up with First Bank to drive viable business ideas.

On delivery, the new partnership will create about five million jobs by supporting one million entrepreneurs with funds at single digit interest rate with strategic training and support programmes.

In his remarks during the consummation of the partnership in Lagos, Acting Managing Director of the Bank of Industry (BoI), Waheed Olagunju disclosed that the bank was partnering with development partners to ensure that funds get to the real businesses that can achieve the target success rate of the programme.

He noted that whereas the initiative is a lending scheme, not a grant as may be perceived by intending applicants, he warned that the terms and conditions have been streamlined to improve access and remove the usual challenges faced in sourcing facilities.

In her remarks, Chairman of First Bank of Nigeria, Mrs. Ibukun Awosika said “Right now, we are at the point of building the future of the nation and when you have an environment where 65 per cent of your able-bodied young people ‎or where a large part of your population are out of work, you should not be able to sleep.

“We need to think of growing businesses in the future. So our commitment to this initiative is first to support nation building, support transforming the lives of that is so critical to our nation building, build new generation of businesses that will be our customers in the future.

“For any country in the world to achieve economic growth, it must prioritise developmental efforts towards small businesses. Small businesses represent about 60 per cent of the economy and also the largest employer of jobs in the country.

Awosika recalled that the target of the new partnership is to achieve about 5 million jobs and their sustainability.

Part of the access specification include N250,000 for new businesses and N500,000 for an existing enterprise with a tenor of one year for returns.