The board and management of the Abia SME Micro Finance Bank formally unveiled the rebranded Bank to the leadership of Aba Business Community under the auspices of the Aba Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture.
In 2017 Governor Okezie Ikpeazu had initiated the process of setting up an SME Micro Finance Bank to support the growth of SMEs in the State; the event was to formally introduce the bank and its products to the Aba Business Community on the foundation of the Aba Chamber of Commerce.
In his opening remarks, Sir Lawrence Obeta President of the Aba Chamber of Commerce thanked the Governor for always dreaming and implementing programmes targeted at improving the opportunities available to MSMEs in Abia especially in Aba. He said under Governor Ikpeazu, Abia has reclaimed her status as the Hub of SMEs, trade and commerce in Nigeria.
Chinenye Nwaogu thanked the leadership of the business community for responding to the invitation, revealing that in 2015 when the Governor took the mantle of leadership of the state, he ensured the development of the MSME ecosystem would be a fulcrum of his administration; identifying access to finance as one of the impediments to business growth. Mr Nwaogu stated that Abia SME Micro Finance Bank is a response to the challenges facing the Abia business community. He said the bank belongs to the People, especially the business community and invited every business owner, keke riders, taxi and bus drivers, traders, entrepreneurs to leverage the platform of the bank to grow their ideas and turn them to huge platforms.
Speaking on the history of the bank Barr Gabe Iboko maintained that Governor Ikpeazu is poised to leave a solid and sustainable legacy through the establishment of this Micro Finance Bank specifically for SMEs. He urged the business community to embrace the opportunity the bank has for them.
Introducing the products of the bank the new Managing Director of the Bank Mr Kingsley Nwobilor said the bank is poised to jump-start and grow businesses through these products. He announced four core banking products of the bank:
1. The Cluster Credit Scheme for traders
2. Save to own for keke and taxi drivers
3. Thrift Savings Credit Scheme for traders especially market women.
4. Abia SME Bank Diaspora Investment Fund which is a fund to be contributed by diasporas to support mostly youth driven businesses. He pointed out that a lot of Abians in diaspora are interested in investing and empowering their kits and kins back home but do not have a structured and transparent channel to support those businesses.
He stated that these products will address most of the challenges facing the business community in Aba.
Barr St Moses Ogbonna the leader of ATRIWA thanked Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, describing the bank as a great vision, adding that the bank is actually a response to years of painful cries of keke riders and pledged that all ATRIWA members will become the first customers of the bank. He said they welcome the Save to Own Scheme which will address the major challenges keke riders are facing. Chief Emeka Igara the Chairman of Ariaria thanked the Governor and the management of the Micro Finance Bank for the products of the bank, while requesting for a cash point at Ariaria to enable traders save their money.
In his reaction Mazi O C Williams the president of LEPMAS said the bank is for artisans who are involved in productions some of which ends up as exports. He assured the Governor and management of the bank that the artisans will support the bank to grow and build businesses.
Speaking on behalf of youths, Hon Chiemela Amanze Egege said that the bank has given hope to those at the base of the socio-economic pyramid. He stated that the Governor is a listening and compassionate leader who thinks more about the welfare of his people. He said the youths now have hope because of the work and programmes of the Governor.
Deacon Chimobi Nkaru the chairman of school road market said Governor Ikpeazu has clearly demonstrated his pragmatic and innovative approach to governance. He is of the view that the Governor has used MSME development programmes to properly empower the good people of Abia state. He assured the bank management that business people under his leadership will embrace the bank and make it their own.
The leader of Auto technicians thanked the Governor for initiating this bank targeted at small scale businesses. He commented on the call for technicians not to deface newly built roads especially in Aba. He said that in 2015, the Governor sponsored auto technicians to Turkey for networking. He pleaded with the government to look into the plea of his association for a cluster for auto technicians in Aba.
Many others including journalists applauded the initiative of the Governor by establishing the Abia SME Micro Finance Bank to serve the interest of businesses especially those at the lower echelons the socio-economic ladder.
Mr Lucky Akubueze the president of ASMATA thanked the Governor for bringing this bank to bridge the access to finance gap which has been a great hindrance to the business growth in Abia State. He said the Governor has made Abians proud in every facet of development. He pointed out that Governor Ikpeazu has shown his transformational footprints across the length and breadth of the state. From infrastructural development, to MSME development and other pro people programmes of the Governor. He asked the bank management to get ready for a surge of customers because the business community is willing to access the products of the bank. He urged the bank to focus on those at the base of the MSME pyramid.