The Orji Uzor Kalu Foundation (OUKF), a non-business entity, has established a free loan scheme for small traders and artisans in Abia State.
The foundation a few weeks ago distributed Toyota Sienna buses to select transporters in the state under its youth empowerment scheme at a ceremony which had in attendance Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The new interest-free loan initiative which is expected to increase the working capital of potentially 11,000 beneficiaries.
Repayable over a period of 12 months (with a 2-month moratorium) at zero interest, the small business support is aimed at taking unemployed youths off the streets.“
“The interest free loan scheme was originally initiated by former Governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Kalu in 1997 with 7,500 beneficiaries across Abia State,” according to Reverend (Mrs) Jemimah Kalu, Executive Secretary of the foundation.
Fielding questions from journalists at the inauguration of the scheme in Ozuakoli LGA of Abia State on Sunday, Mrs Kalu stated:
“This is just a continuation of a good gesture that our founder had championed over the years in his private capacity. “After a recent needs assessment and engagement of stakeholders of various communities, we decided to roll out another phase of the programme.
“It is our firm belief that in view of the success of other initiatives, the free loan scheme will not only boost business activities but will help to reduce social vices in the society.
“With time, we shall extend the gesture to one state in each of the six geopolitical zone”.
In separate remarks, two small merchants, Ben Okafor (tailor) and Mrs Kelechi Uche (provision seller), commended the foundation for its programmes for natives, promising to make good use of the funds when available.