THE founder, Natasha Akpoti Impact Investment Limited (NAIIL), Barr. Natasha Akpoti has flagged off business start-up fund for five thousand Kogi women and youths.
She established Builders Hub Impact Investment Program (BHIIP) in 2013, a social enterprise focused on creating jobs through the sustainable revival of Nigeria’s local industries, train people with business skills and ideas and provide them with the equipment needed to set up their business where they can as well train others, giving soft loans with zero interest rates for business owners and intended business owners to develop and start their own businesses where they can grow and be employers of labour.
However, many people have interpreted her quest for entrepreneurial development, and her philanthropic gestures for political gain.
Natasha Akpoti, Kogi Central Senatorial candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the last election through her first NGO (BHIIP) has been into the business of helping other people to discover their untapped potentials through skills acquisition, creating business owners through her soft loans as well as promoting education through her philanthropic gestures which dates back 2013 before delving into politics in 2018.
According to her during the flag-off ceremony the first phase of the soft loan scheme with zero interest rate only captures women across the twenty one local government areas of Kogi State who are mainly petty traders was unveiled in Kogi Central and Kogi West on August 17 and unveiled in Kogi East on August 18.
She stated that, the twenty thousand naira zero interest loan scheme is payable within the period of five months which will guarantee the beneficiaries to apply for a higher amount and also paves way for other people to benefit from the scheme.
Akpoti further explained that the programme is to create a financial lending platform where the people at the grassroots will have access to borrow money to start or boost their businesses without the burden of loan.
According to her, she was pushed by the constant hues and cries of the people at the grassroots on the challenges posed by many loan scheme with high interest rates which spurred her to come up with the initiative of Natasha Akpoti Impact Investment Limited where the people at the grassroots can borrow money with zero interest rate.
“The scheme is designed in such a way that after paying the twenty thousand naira zero interest loan, the beneficiary will have access to obtain higher amount of money up to hundred thousand naira.
“The people at the grassroots which supposed to be the strength of the country’s economic is extremely poor not because of lack of ideas but because they don’t have access to funds scheme with zero interest where the people can easily have access to it without rigorous procedures.
“The bigger picture is to create a platform for people at the grassroots to be trained on how to manage their businesses, sell their products and create an avenue where they can access free interest loans”, she said.
Speaking at the event, the North Central Zonal Coordinator of Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), Mrs. Charity Ugwo Abba said they were motivated to partner with Natasha Akpoti because she is working with the vision of the agency, promising to work with her through a sustainable business mentoring programme and educate the beneficiaries on how they can access soft loan scheme of the agency and educate them on CAC registration.
Similarly, the United Bank for Africa (UBA) regional manager, Mr. Yusuf Omeiza educated the beneficiaries on how to develop their businesses
and nurture it to a sustainable level.
Speaking on behalf of the president of Kogi Central market women, the treasurer, OKehi Market women, Yusuf Maria, said Natasha has set a developmental standard for people in positions of authority to trail
According to her, the initiative will go a long way to help her members who she said many are merely surviving on high loan scheme like Lapo, promising to advise them to utilise it judiciously and payback to allow other people to benefit from the scheme.
Also speaking, the leader of Market women in Kabba, Mrs. Esther Abiodun, said the scheme is going to be helpful unlike other loan scheme with high interest which she said has added to their plights.
On her own contributions, President Market Women, Kogi East, Hajia Mero Agumi described the scheme as first zero interest scheme by an individual that will capture the entire local government of the state, which she said will go a long way to help the beneficiaries especially the widows amongst them.
Some of the beneficiaries who shared their joy described the initiative as the best in recent times as no loan scheme with free interest accessible to them in their various areas.