BOI unveils initiative to boost rural businesses’ access to capital

The Bank of Industry (BOI) has launched the Rural Area Programme on Investment and Development (RAPID) initiative to mitigate rural-urban migration by empowering rural communities with access to capital, particularly targeting businesses of youths and women in these underserved areas.

The Director and Chief Executive Officer of BOI, Dr Olasupo Olusi, emphasised that RAPID is designed to foster economic inclusion by providing rural dwellers with equitable access to capital.

He said this access to capital is crucial for engaging in commercial and economic activities and addressing the inadequacies in existing intervention programmes that primarily favour urban centres.

Olusi explained that the initiative offers substantial financial support, with potential funding up to N10 million per project.

According to him, the terms include a three-year repayment plan with a six-month moratorium at a concessionary interest rate of five per cent.

He said the initiative is targeting existing small businesses seeking capacity expansion capacity and new startups, with a focus on youth and women-owned businesses.

“As a pilot launch, it is limited to 10 beneficiaries per state and FCT, totalling 370 beneficiaries. The grant component is developed to incentivize good repayment and businesses with significant social impact in employment generation for women and youth”, he added.

He said to ensure the programme’s accessibility, applications can be submitted via a dedicated online portal or physically at any BOI district office nationwide starting May 15.

Also speaking, the Executive Director of Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises at BOI, Omar Shekarau, outlined that RAPID would cover all 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), focusing on sectors like agriculture, textiles, garment manufacturing, leather goods, and food processing and preservation.

He said this comprehensive coverage ensures that the benefits of economic growth are felt across the country, transforming rural areas into burgeoning economic hubs.

Shekarau further stressed that beyond financial support, capacity building is a critical component of the initiative.

He said by empowering entrepreneurs with the necessary knowledge and skills, RAPID aims to ensure sustainable development and long-term self-sufficiency for rural businesses.

He noted that as RAPID rolls out, the BOI anticipates significant improvements in job creation, financial inclusion, and economic diversification, which are expected to contribute to national prosperity and stem the tide of migration from rural areas to cities.

According to him, the programme not only represents a significant investment in Nigeria’s rural economies but also serves as a model for future initiatives aiming to achieve inclusive growth and sustainable development across West Africa.

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