As the World Bank and Federal Government move to cushion the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on the poor and vulnerable persons, no fewer than 1,818 persons have received grants worth millions to boost their businesses in Delta State.
The World Bank project, which anchored on COVID-19 Action Recovery Economic Stimulus (NG-CARES), was flagged off in Asaba under the Delta Cares Scheme to assist Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) affected by the pandemic in the country.
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, who announced the disbursement of the funds, said the beneficiaries were those captured in the first phase of the programme in the state.
Okowa commended the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) for supporting the Federal Government in ensuring that the programme was approved and applauded the World Bank for the intervention.
He disclosed that the programme was conceived to cushion the socio-economic effects of COVID-19 pandemic on the people, particularly the poor and vulnerable, adding that about 2,529 MSMEs would receive grants to support post-COVID-19 loans, operational costs and enhance their IT capacity.
He added that the programme would also support 25,269 poor and vulnerable households with social transfers, basic services and livelihood grants as well as 13,976 farmers to boost food production and ensure smooth functioning of the food supply chain.
Also speaking, Managing Director, Bank of Industry (BOI), Olukayode Pitan, said the NG-CARES was a partnership with the World Bank targeted at vulnerable persons and provide food security post-COVID-19 pandemic.
Pitan, who commended Delta for being the first state to launch the NG-CARES programme in the country, assured of the bank’s commitment to empowering and supporting the growth of MSMEs with single digit interest loans and moratorium.
He explained that the BOI had disbursed $772 million to 3.8 million persons in the country in the last five years, adding that 30 of the 36 states of the federation had agreed to work with the BoI to implement the programme.