Can we know you ma?
I am Mrs Banke Sutton, the Ondo State Micro Credit Chairman
How has it been being the Chairperson of the microcredit agency?
So far it’s been good, you get to know people in every area of the society and its comforting knowing you are able to help others especially those you are determined to better their lives. So its good to know you are giving a helping hand to those people.
So how far have you gone in terms of giving credit to the people since your emergence as the Chairman?
Since inception as the Chairman I know we have given credit to the people; probably we have given 400 to the Odigbo community, we have given 300 to the ilaje community, we have given 250 Ese Odo, we have given another 100 in a village in ilaje local government, we have given the hair dressers under the Artisan Scheme, in total I can say we have given up to 2000 people since my inception, since November 2013.
When was this office created?
This office has been established since about 2001 and it was established under the law of the State House of Assembly but I know that from the inception of this government, it has been busier than it has ever been. So many of the schemes that have now have never been in existence before now. As we speak we have in total over 10 schemes and this incorporates nearly every sector of the society.
Can we just have a run-down of some of the schemes:
For the market people we have one that is being referred to as “Special Market Women Improvement Loan and Empowerment Schemes” under the acronym of “SMILES”, we also have the “Special Transformative Artisans Repositioning Scheme (STARS) and this is specially for the artisans, this include all artisans from brick layers to tailors to those people involved in welding name it. We also have the acronym of “YES” which is the “Yam Farmers Empowerment Scheme” which is YES, we have the “WIRES” for the widows which is “Widows Re-Settlement and Empowerment Scheme”, we have the Special intervention program that is designed for any emergency like people that are not Ondo State indigenes that are based here and are involved in some trades or cultural things and all other things like that, if they come together. For example we have some people here that are requesting for loan at the moment which Mr. Governor has mandated us to look into it. They are the Kwara people that are planting. I think they want to change what they are doing at the moment to proper trade, so things like that, because we want to discourage them from their line of trade now the Governor is trying to give them something so that will divert them away from their present line of trade. Am glad you know what that mean. We also have the “MELS” but that that’s Micro Enterprises Loan Scheme usually for individuals but we are not encouraging that now.
Why are you not encouraging MELS
Because they are not as forthcoming as the “SMILES”. The market women that are very loyal to their loan, they are very responsible when you give them they trade and repay their loans in no time; the rate of recovery is very high over almost 90%. They are doing so well. The “STARS” beneficiaries are not as forthcoming as the women but they too are trying. There are some groups under the “STARS” that are doing very well. For example the hairdressers are doing very well as well as probably the meat sellers but “MELS” is individual and you know what that means, having to do more than necessary to run after them to pay their loans, that’s why we are a bit discouraged about that at the moment.
The 90% women recovery feat that you have mentioned is indeed remarkable, what was your effort to have achieved the feat?
From the time of giving the loan the Governor said it to everyone not just the market women that there is this incentive that if you pay as at when due within that time you get double for what you are paying for instance if you are given N50,000 and you pay it on time we double it to about N100,000. For example ‘Elelubo kpelebe’ group, ‘Egbe owolowo’ they started with just four million naira but the last we disbursed to them was 20million and it is as a result of the way they have been faithful towards payment of their loan and you also know that when you talk of women, we find the women very committed to whatever it is they are doing maybe that is what have helped in this area. But in other areas where the rate is not as good as this, we do take some steps not too drastic but we do go out of our ways to ask for the payment especially, under the “SIP” program which is the Special Intervention Program we have to take some drastic measures to recover some payment.
What is the relationship between your office and ‘Gbebiro’ women empowerment programme?
Gbebiro is a Special Program of its own under the Ministry of Women Affairs, they don’t really get us involved when they empower women under Gbebiro it’s a different programme entirely
Can we do a rundown or an estimate of how much this government has given out so far in terms of facilities to the people?
In total, I will say exactly what it is from November till now, from November 2013 since my emergence as the Chairman of this agency we have disburse 20million to Igbokoda, to Ese odo 12.5 million, to one community Okala we disburse 5million, to the Elelubo we disbursed 20 million, to Ore we disbursed another 20million, I think all together it wells over 70million. The number of beneficiary in total under “SMILES” is over 40,000 not to talk of the other Schemes, okay even to “WIRES” we disbursed about 3 million and the Armed Forces Remembrance program so we can put an estimate of over 100,000 benefited all through since the inception of this government.
What have been your challenges so far?
To start with, I would say we have the main challenge of recovery from other schemes not from the “SMILES”, especially under the Artisan’s schemes minus the hair dressers, we also have the challenge of funds; there aren’t enough funds to go round. Those are the two main challenges.
Do you have any source of funding aside the Governor?
Since my resumption here there is none. Though I have written to many areas, I am at the moment trying to liaise with the Ondo State Oil Producing Area Development Commission on what they can do for people from rural/catchment areas in Ilaje and Ese Odo so that they will come up with a set up for empowering them, because most of the empowerment that goes out goes to the men. It’s either under contract giving and others which the women are not very prone to, so my advice to them, we still have a meeting coming up next week or so I have written a letter to them to see how we can empower the women from that area without having to wait for the government to provide money all the time. I have also written to “CHEVRON” because I discovered that Chevron does give some fund to the area and don’t think it gets to the women in that area, so am thinking of how Chevron can put something aside for the women from that area. I have also written to the ministry of Niger-Delta, which I got a reply that they have no minister on sit but they can only look into it, and I only need to go back and remind them of what I have done in the past. I am also looking towards International Agencies and am liasing with some, I still haven’t gotten a definite and favourable reply but am on it
How about the Bank of Industry
Before going to the Bank of Industry, the CBN is ready to disburse the maximum of 2 billion to each state for the empowerment of Micro Credit Scheme, they call it “MSNEDF” fund which is “Micro Small Medium Enterprise Development Fund” under this scheme they are ready to give money to the States that are interested in things like this and since we have an existing micro credit agency we are hoping to tap from it provided their requirement is okay with that of our government here and also the bank of industry, because we are micro here and bank of industry only deals with medium scale enterprises, I think we are not up to what the bank of industry is looking for
So far the Challenges have been funding and repayment and you have been trying but the Government cannot shoulder the responsibility alone, are you looking at support from Bank’s Corporate Social Responsibilities?
Though most banks come in to tell us what they can do but their own line of corporate social responsibility training. As it is, we want them to train people for us. They can do that and probably to sensitize and upgrade the people’s knowledge. That’s where they are ready to come in.
What are the interest rates on the Schemes:
On some of the Schemes it is no interest rate, like that of “WIRES” those of the widows there is no interest rate and that of those given to the physical challenged people we don’t collect interest loans on those but the interest rates on others is 9% and that is 9% in a year.
How do you let the public know about assessing the loans; is it by public advocacy or by group.
Micro Credit now in Ondo State is gold fish, most people in Ondo don’t even know the Governor all they know is an agency called micro credit. During those empowerment programs like that of Ore we publicize it and most people see it and most traders want to key into it. We also have our offices in all the 18 Local Government Areas we also use those ones as connectors to the people in those areas. They also go out the help in collecting our money. The method of repayment is taking the money to the bank because while disbursing there is a teller attached and the account number of the bank to pay into and where they are not forthcoming we also have people in those areas to collect the money. We also organize sensitization programs where we not only ask them to come for loans but teach them how to use the money and then pay back and use it for the necessary things. We do organize those kind of programs frequently and I think we still need to do more, this place is very popular that everybody want to tap from.
How can you rate the support of His Excellency to the agency?
You know quite well that to our Governor, this is his pet project. He sincerely loves what we are doing here. This agency is one of the areas where we are really showcasing what he is doing; he has so many programs that affect people’s lives positively. I must say that apart from the health programs, you can’t fault him on that, he’s excellent on the health program and that of education, I tell you this is another area you cannot fault this government. It is his baby he loves it a lot and I think part of what gives him joy is seeing happiness on his people’s faces when the money is being disbursed to them he is very happy with what we are doing here.
Thank you for giving us the audience
The pleasure is mine.