Bankers’ committee okays lenders to manage new investment scheme

An entrepreneurial scheme initiated by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and other banks 10 months ago has finally taken off with the appointment of seven banks as managers.

The scheme, known as Agri-Business, Small and Medium Enterprises Investment Scheme (AGSMEIS), was scripted to support the Federal Government’s efforts at promoting agricultural business and small and medium enterprises as vehicles for sustainable economic development and employment generation.

The seven banks, under the aegis of Bankers’ Committee, are expected to operate under a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) named “Bankers’ Fund Managers Limited” to manage the scheme, with a board of directors constituted to monitor its implementation.

Last August, a project review committee made up of the seven banks was constituted to function as the SPV in efforts to kick off full operations and consequent disbursement of the funds to qualified applicants.

The initiative required all banks in Nigeria to set aside five per cent of their yearly profit after tax as equity investment in the agri-business and SMEs project, which has so far garnered N26.87 billion from 21 banks to be invested in projects approved by the board of the scheme.

The initiative will benefit activities in agricultural investments like the production, storage, processing, logistics and marketing.

Also, SMEs in the real and services sectors, which are backward integrated into manufacturing, agriculture, mining and modular refineries, will benefit from the scheme.

Other enterprises included are technological endeavours like local initiatives in information and communication technology and any other activity as may be determined by the Bankers’ Committee from time to time.

A statement from the committee’s secretariat noted: “This new initiative targeted at start-ups and expansion of established companies or reviving of ailing companies, is expected to further enhance job creation and agri-business towards sustainable economy.”

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