3,000 Niger Delta Youths to get NIRSAL Loans
Three thousand Niger Delta youths, including ex-agitators, will benefit from the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) loans, the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) has said.
Already, training programmes to prepare them for loans offered by the Central Bank of Nigeria-backed NIRSAL scheme.
The first phase of the training, which has 60 youths in attendance, is currently ongoing in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.
PAP’s Interim Administrator Milland Dikio explained that NIRSAL would select 30 youths for the pilot survey of the loan initiative after the training.
Dikio, represented by his Special Adviser on Project, Godwin Ekpo, emphasised that PAP was only acting as a guide to give qualified entrepreneurs an opportunity to access the loans.
He told the trainees that the loans were not bazaars and should be paid back within the terminal period to enable NIRSAL to extend the gesture to others.
The PAP boss explained that the loans were free of collateral with low interests but must be secured by guarantors to facilitate repayments.
He said PAP decided to facilitate the loans because such an opportunity was in line with his vision to turn youths, especially the ex-agitators, to entrepreneurs.
His words: “NIRSAL is supporting the SMEs with soft loans to enable them to expand their businesses. As PAP, our vision is to help our delegates become entrepreneurs and/or employable citizens contributing to the economy. So, we lookout for opportunities where they can access some level of funding to take their businesses to the next level.
“We have other people that will be joining after this; this is just a pilot scheme. The partnership is one that will grow and we have a larger number. It must be stated again, that this is not a grant; these are low-interest loans, single-digit with no collateral that will be paid back after a while. The tenure of repayment and other conditions are stated in the papers they will sign.
“We hope that these delegates will become more successful entrepreneurs in the future as a result of this funding. Some of them are into agriculture, small scale businesses and we hope this fund will help them expand”.
Lead consultant, Paul Tyokosu, said the essence of the training was to enable the entrepreneurs to have access to funding and skills to promote their businesses.
He asked the trainees to think of farming, agro-businesses and another agricultural value chain to expand their businesses and create more employment opportunities.
One of the trainees, Amatari Ogon, who runs a poultry farm, commended Dikio for introducing Niger Delta youths to opportunities.