Industrialization: UYOCCIMA Boss Advocates Free Interest Loans for SMEs
President of the Uyo Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (UYOCCIMA), Obong Nseyen Ekanem Ebong has advocated the empowerment of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) with interest-free loans, as a means of boosting industrialization in Akwa Ibom State.
Obong Nseyen Ebong sued for this during an interaction with members, Conference of Online Publishers of Akwa Ibom State, on Thursday, June 18, 2021 at his residence.
The former Rector of Maritime Academy Oron, who commended the efforts of the State Governor in ensuring the existence and workability of select industries in the State, averred that the private sector needed to be empowered to function effectively.
“His Excellency, Gov. Udom Emmanuel is trying his best in terms of industrialization. We’ve heard of Toothpick, fertilizer, syringe industries but we need to empower the private sector as well. 70% of industries world over are owned by private individuals. Only few are run by government”, he said.
Decrying the alarming rate of capital flight in the state, the UYOCCIMA boss observed that much of Akwa Ibom’s money goes out to her neighbours who build their brands and businesses by mandatory apprenticeship.
“The money that comes into Akwa Ibom State does not stay in this State. It ends up in Aba and Onitsha. Look at the number of people that go to Aba and Onitsha every week to buy things for weddings, burials and other events. Even in Uyo here, 90% of the businesses here are owned by our Igbo brothers. So, the position of UYOCCIMA is to change that narrative.”
To change this narrative, the state UYOCCIMA boss informed that his administration was working towards ensuring that SMEs and the private sector find their feet, courtesy of its national and international collaborations.
“UYOCCIMA represents the face and voice of business in Akwa Ibom State. We have signed up with the American Chamber of Commerce and collaborating with the Nigerian Export Promotion Council to ensure the registration, funding and mentoring of 1,500 new businesses, to stand firm”.
“On the level of UYOCCIMA, we are encouraging women and youths to become successful entrepreneurs and this we have begun with the establishment of the women and youth groups which have already been taken up since last year”, he explained.
Speaking on the need for mentoring and monitoring, Obong Nseyen Ebong informed that some business owners were fond of diverting grants given by the Chamber to their personal endeavors.
“In most cases, the monies collected for business are misapplied. That’s why at the level of UYOCCIMA, we give a lot of attention to mentorship. Mentorship and discipline are critical factors in business”, he stated.
Assuring of UYOCCIMA’s resolve to support the state government in its industrialization drive, the Chairman of the defunct Akwa Ibom Think Tank told COOPA that they were out to change the perception of Akwa Ibom as a civil service state.
“UYOCCIMA is here to change the narrative of Akwa Ibom as a civil service state. We will empower the women and youth and give interest free loans. Our goal is to support the creation of more jobs in Akwa Ibom State and lessen the burden on government.” – The former Rector also intimated on the upcoming inauguration of UYOCCIMA youth/women group scheduled for 8th of July, 2021 and called on business owners to get registered with the body to enjoy the benefits it provides