No fewer than 80,000 applicants have applied for COVID-19 loan, said the NIRSAL Microfinance Bank (NMFB).
NMFB said it has resolved that the business plans for the ₦50 billion Targeted Credit Facility as a stimulus package to support households and MSMEs is no longer mandatory.
Before arriving at this decision, the bank had received 80,000 applications but ran into social media storm when it was discovered that it was charging between ₦5,000 and ₦10,000 from applicants to access the bank’s business plan.
Giving the interest shown for the intervention, the disbursement of the ₦50 billion fund will commence next week.
Addressing journalists on the development in Abuja on Tuesday, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of NIRSAL Micro Finance Bank Abubakar Abdullahi Kure explained why the bank changed its mind on the charges.
According to him, “in order to stem further controversy, the management of NMFB has resolved that the business plan is no longer a mandatory requirement and the third party provision of a business plan is no longer compulsory.”
He explained that “a business plan is supposed to be substantial, but because of the circumstances, we have developed other templates. Essentially, we will be using your bank statement to project your cash flow back and cash flow upfront.”
He added that applicants “bank statements can give us an idea of your capacity to borrow and your capacity to pay. However, businesses that can develop a business plan will make our jobs easier so we can efficiently and fastly process those loan requests.
He lamented that “the major challenges we are having is people are submitting bank statements that are not current.”
With the new development, Kure said “those who have a business plan might have their application proceeded faster. We don’t want to make it mandatory because of the challenges associated with it but a serious person will know that if you are taking up to ₦25 million, then you need a business plan.”
“A business plan tells you about your business profitability, sustainability and so these are the essential things we look at.
Kure cautioned applicants that the money they will be getting “is a loan. It’s not a grant and anyone who thinks it is a grant should stay away.”
According to Kure, “those that can afford the business plan can go ahead but for those who can work outside of the business plan, it’s not a problem.”
Kure also stated that 40,000 of the applicants that had so far applied for the facility were households.
The objective of the ₦50 billion facility he said is “to allow firms stay in business and ensure people stay employed and mitigate harm on the economy.”
Speaking on the controversial business plan, Abubakar Abdullahi Kure said “the issue of business plan was a requirement for MSMEs applications as stipulated by CBN guideline.”
“At the start of the process, business plans which NIRSAL received from loan applicants were highly substandard and to ensure high standard and efficient processing, an optional, automated business plan was provided by a service provider at a highly discounted fee.
“This is to avoid applicants being charged excessively by other consultants and also to help people during the stay at home period and to make application process easy. He said the bank “got a third party service provider to enable applicants access the business plan through the internet.”
But giving the outcry that followed the introduction of the charges, the managing director noted that “the management of the bank later resolved that business plan was no longer a mandatory requirement and the third party provision of a business plan was not compulsory too.
He added that the bank would still welcome applications from credible businesses and households affected by COVID-19 with a view to mitigate it