Anambra Small Business Agency (ASBA) was created to assist businesses to strive. It also benefited from the N2 billion loan distributed by CBN. Our reporter, JOHN NDU spoke with the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the agency, Clems Chukwuka, to ascertain the success of the initiative in Anambra. Excerpts:
Can you tell more about your agency?
ASBA is a creation of law in 2014 by the state’s House of Assemby. ASBA was established to take charge and responsibilities of nurturing, managing, building capacities on the micro, small and medium enterprises in the state.
The micros are those legitimate entities of land within the economic blueprint of Governor Obiano, all his pillars and economic enablers. Businesses from N1 to N5million are regarded as micro. If you move to maximum of N5million, you are regarded as small.
Part of our functions is to fund them because they are the critical group of any government. They are at advantageous position to create employment for the people, create wealth and GDP. In fact they are the pillars of every economy.
The governor mandated us to be the best in creating sustainable economy and be the best in the entire Nigeria. So with the charge, the agency took off in March,2015, with the fund of N2 billion from Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). N1billion was specifically for micro enterprise, cooperatives and those funds will go to them.
Of course, maximum of N500,000 per individual. If you form a cooperative of 10 persons, you can get maximum of N5million depending on your business structure. Then N1billion goes to micro enterprises where female will get 60% and male 40%. This is because females pay better than males. The other N1billion is for small and medium enterprises which over 50 to 100 people form.
We have been able to fund over 30,000 ndi Anambra. This has also replicated to Anambra Rice. We funded Anambra Rice and today, Anambra Rice is the best. We funded all the market women in cooperatives; we have funded other businesses too
Go to Ogbunike by Nkwelle Ezunaka Junction, we have developed a shoe industrial cluster. They are exporting shoes to other countries. We placed fund to over 700 to 800 people, gave them half a million each and they are having a total of N450 million.
What is the recovery rate of the fund?
It is not all about recovery; it is all about doing the right thing at the right time. The same N2 billion that Anambra got that must be paid back to CBN 100%, all the states got it too. Last two years, the vice president went around the states for SME clinic to verify what states did with the N2billion.
On August 2019, ASBA won the best MSC in the whole Nigeria. For you to win it, you must have recovered all your money. Today, the federal government has partnership with Anambra in shoe manufacturing. It is a gigantic structure with sophisticated machines. As at October, last year, we have recovered 87% of the N2billion and we are paying the interest hundred per cent.
By 30th of March, ASBA will pay the entire N2 billion to CBN. We are doing this because Governor Obiano puts a round peg in a round hole.
What is the level of accessibility to the fund?
There is a distinction between grant and loan. The policy of N20 Million Community Choose Your Project in Anambra is a grant, where communities come together to choose whatever they want to build and Gov Obiano will give them money. We give loan here. Get someone who will surety you should you fail to pay back. We want people to come and assess the fund. Once you meet the requirements of surety, you get your fund. We will help you in your business plans. We will help to remould you and you go into your business and make your money.
Do you also give to other political parties or is it for only APGA members?
We don’t look at the people’s faces; we look at the people in Anambra State. The Chairman, National Association of Small and Medium Enterprise, Anambra Sector is a core APC man.
We are only interested in people doing business in Anambra not indigenes of Anambra. We are still looking for people to give fund to establish business and create opportunities for others. We have the money.
What is your advice to people who are in dire need of the fund?
They need to be passionate about what they are doing. When you are passionate, you become very successful. Be knowledgeable of what you want. If you don’t know, come here, we will assist you and bring out your best. We will give financial advisory services to you. Our mission remains to establish a structured and efficient hub for the micro, small and medium enterprises sector that will ehance sustainable economic development in Anambra State.