Covid-19: Take advantage of World Bank grants, Kwara tells business owners

Kwara State Government has urged business owners to take advantage of the World Bank grants to cushion the effects of COVID-19 pandemic on their businesses in the state.

Acting General Manager Kwara State Social Investment Programmes (KWASSIP) Brimah Muhammad made the call during a

town hall sensitisation programme on Kwara NG-CARES for MSMEs.

The CARES/World Bank programme is a COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus loan set up to support MSMEs in various sectors to mitigate the losses incurred during the period of the pandemic.

The World Bank is funding the federal government to the tune of about $750m.

The federal government will in turn loan the 36 states and FCT to the tune of about $20m per state to be  shared across different result areas which include social intervention support, food security and MSMEs among others.

According to Muhammad, “What we intend to achieve here is to enlighten MSMEs across Kwara State on how to apply. The eligibility criteria to apply for the support the World Bank, Federal Government and the state government are providing to them.

“This is where we are coming in because we are partnering with the Bank of Industry (BoI) which is the implementing partner with World Bank to implement the next phase targeted at MSMEs to cover both the formal and informal businesses.

“We need to enlighten them on how to apply, the eligibility criteria, which each category of businesses will benefit in terms of the grant sizes available and the major business disbursement link indicators (DLI) that we are targeting.

“These include businesses that collected loans during COVID-19 period. The plan is to offset 40% of the loans they’ve collected.

“We have the second DLI which is supporting the overhead costs of businesses. Basically, these include the operational costs, salaries, utility bills, security bills and that of alternative power. And the third is the technology support to businesses. We need to advance businesses like hardware and software and other devices”, he noted.

Speaking with newsmen, the Director-General Kwara State Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (KWACCIMA) Prince Ayo Fagbemi  described Kwara NG-CARES as a soft landing for business owners to cushion the effects of COVID-19 on businesses.

“We have been told of the benefits derivable from the Kwara NG-CARES for MSMEs. This sensitisation programme is a laudable one, provided it will be carried out immediately. It is one good thing for government to have good programme but execution was usually the problem,” he said.

“Right now, what we have gained is that the government is very concerned about the economic situation in the state as a result of COVID-19, particularly from March, 2020 till date.

“So, the government intends to provide softlanding for business owners to cushion the effects of COVID-19 on businesses that have collapsed or nearing collapse or not performing as expected.”

Chairman Nigeria Association of Small and Medium Enterprises Prince Tajudeen Ajisefini urged the state government to partner relevant associations in the screening process of the applicants to bring development and relief to MSMEs in Kwara State.

“We are concerned on how the petty traders will be able to access the application online. I want the organisers to put that into consideration. I still want the government to collaborate with organised associations that are directly involved in the affected businesses so that the right people will be the right beneficiaries,” he said.

 

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