By Nofisat Marindoti
The number of MSMEs in the State of Osun has increased by 182% in the last seven and half years. This is evident in the massive efforts of the Rauf Aregbesola administration to revamp the economy and boost the Gross Domestic Product, GDP, of the State.
The Commissioner for Commerce, Industries, Cooperatives and Empowerment, Mr. Ismaila Jayeoba-Alagbada, who stated this at a press conference on Monday, added that the state government has also digitized the operations of its micro-credit agency.
Alagbada stated the sterling contributions of the agency in the realm of providing the needed support to varying business owners just as he revealed that the government has also invested over N4 billion as credit lines to Cooperative societies across the state.
“This conference is called to elucidate, for record and posterity purposes, key poverty alleviation programmes of the State Government of Osun in the eight years of the administration of Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola. The landmark achievements of the administration is a watershed in the history of the State. In a spate of eight years, the State has witnessed monumental, visible and enduring achievements in every sector of the State economy.
“The Osun Micro Credit Agency was set up in 2013. The agency was fundamentally inaugurated to cater for the provision of interest free soft loans to traders, artisans, market men and women and other entrepreneurs. Starting with an initial sum of N2 billion naira, the agency has been able to provide support for 133 SMEs, 800 cooperative societies and 9,955 individuals across the 30 local government councils and the Area Office in Modakeke.
“Through effective and efficient credit administration and management, the initial fund released to the agency by the State Government and that from the CBN have been serially revolved and has grown to N4, 536,035,000.00. As at September, 2018, a total number of 27,352 MSMEs which are made up of seven sectors had benefitted from the credit facilities of the agency.
“The support to MSMEs has led to an increase in the number these classes of enterprises from the 2010 figure of 481,451 to 1,358,446 as at September, 2018. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the State had increased from N191.1 billion to N398 billion over the same period.
“The implementation of the digital transformation project has already started yielding results, as all existing disbursed or approved loan records have been fully digitized for immediate use. This already affords the Agency management relevant insight to status/analytics of its loans portfolio and instant access to legacy records.
“With the digital age reforming several agencies, government parastatals and other engagements in the ever changing world, there needs to be a modern idea to how we can help small businesses in Osun through a more secured, efficient and transparent process of securing soft loans to improve their lot.”
Alagbada also highlighted the achievements of the Ministry in some programmes which included the financial empowerment programmes through Osun Micro-Credit agency, the Quick Impact Intervention Programme, Introduction of the of standardized weighing scales in the markets, the textile dealers empowerment scheme, cocoyam Take-off’s empowerment scheme, among others.
Alagbada reiterated that the agency’s loans have emerged as one of the best and most performing in the country as the initiative which has continued to achieve results needs a more vibrant and technological approach revolving with the digital age in its operations.
“The latest reports of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) classify Osun as the State with the lowest poverty rate in Nigeria. There is no doubt that the Aregbesola administration has laid a solid foundation and has gone ahead to put firm super structure on the foundation to ensure an enduring socio-economic development of the State, he added.