By Raji Rasak
Badagry (Lagos State), July 13, 2020 (NAN) The Aje Micro-Credit Scheme, a subsidiary of Yinka Folawiyo Petroleum Company Ltd., has started to give out no less than N72 million loan to 900 residents.
The beneficiaries are from various communities within Badagry Division of Lagos State who had applied for the loan.
Mr Babatunde Ajose, the Project Manager, Yinka Folawiyo Petroleum Company, disclosed this to newsmen in Badagry.
Ajose said that some of the residents of communities where the company is located had been receiving alerts of interest-free loans ranging from N50,000 to N100,000 since July 6.
Ajose said that the beneficiaries were expected to invest the interest-free loans for five years to boost their businesses.
He said that the scheme received no less than 4,000 applications from the residents early this year when it was launched.
He said that after the staff of the company had screened the applicants, 2,400 residents were short listed to benefit from the loan which it had begun to in batches.
Ajose said that the company had released one million dollars (over N360m) from its investment fund to boost the economy of Badagry through the scheme.
“Over 900 residents from different businesses have started receiving alerts of sums ranging from N50,000 to N100,000, depending on the information given to us by our field workers.
“I am very sure that by the first week of September, all the 900 beneficiaries of our interest-free loan scheme will have received their money,” he said.
Ajose said that at present, the company was concentrating on the residents within the rural areas of Badagry.
He said that subsequent phases would target residents in the urban areas.
He said that the beneficiaries of the first batch of the loan scheme were those living in Iragbo, Oko-Afo, Imeke, Ajido, Gberefu, Ilogbo-Eremi, Badagry, Apa, Aradagun and Ibereko communities.
The project manager, however, said that the delay in the distribution of the loan was due to the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.
He said that they would have started the payment of the loans around March and April.
He said that they delayed payment so that the beneficiaries would not use it to buy food during the lockdown instead of investing it in their businesses.
On the mode of repayment, Ajose said that the company did not want to stress the residents by asking them to be queuing-up at the banks for hours or spending a lot of time from their communities to travel down to Badagry.
“We are partnering Paga operators in Owode, Apa, Imeke, Ilogbo Eremi, Oko-Afo and Seme so that when they are paying back the loans, they will not be paying extra charges on top .
“We have discovered that going to banks to pay back the loan is not going to be easy for them.
“The company has recruited people from different communities whose responsibility is to monitor each group that received the loans.
“Anybody or group that defaults from paying back will lose the opportunity to get another loan,” he said.
Oba Abraham Ogabi, the Onimeke of Imeke in Olorunda LCDA, told NAN that some members of his community who applied for the loan had begun to receive alerts.
“Honestly, my people have been coming to tell me that Folawiyo Company has started paying the loan.
“When the money was not forthcoming earlier as promised by the company, they came to lodge complaints in the palace.
“I have advised them to ensure they pay back the loan to enable them get another one again.
“For Folawiyo, this is a good step in the right direction. I commend their efforts in giving back to the communities where they are operating from,” he said.
Ogabi also appealed to the oil company not to forget the monarchs from Badagry division in its Corporate Social Responsibility (CRS) arrangement.
He said that both the monarchs and the company had discussed the issue during the last meeting they held at ASCON, Badagry in early 2020.
One of the beneficiaries, Mr Samuel Sokenu, a physically-challenged shoe-maker, told NAN that he received N50,000 from the micro-finance company on July 6.
Sokenu said that he would buy a shoe-making machine and leather from the loan to boost his business.
A fish seller in Imeke, Mrs Serifat Sulaiman, said that she received N100,000 from the scheme on July 7.
Sulaiman said that the money came as a surprise because she never thought the scheme was real, adding that she would invest it in her fishing business.
Also, Miss Akorede Oke, a fashion designer in Water Cooperation, Imeke, said she got N100,000.
While thanking the company for giving out the loan, Oke promised to invest it in her fashion-design business.
NAN reports that Aje Micro Credit Finance scheme was established on Jan.30 by Yinka Folawiyo Petroleum Company Limited, in Badagry as part of its efforts to give back to its host communities.
Ajose said that all the communities where Aje Oilfield is located would benefit from the scheme.
He said, “Aje Micro Credit Scheme is an interest-free and collateral-free loan for petty traders, artisans and young-school leavers.
“As you are repaying the one you collected, you will have the opportunity to get another loan,” he said.