NIRSAL Microfinance Bank (NMFB) Tuesday said the business plans for the N50 billion targeted credit facility as a stimulus package to support households and MSMEs was no longer a basic requirement to access the fund.
The outfit also announced that it had received 80,000 applications, most of whom were however disillusioned upon learning on the social media that the bank was charging between ₦5,000 and ₦10,000 for access to its business plan.
Addressing newsmen in Abuja, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer NIRSAL Micro Finance Bank Abubakar Abdullahi Kure said in view of the interest shown by Nigerians for the initiative, the disbursement of the ₦50 billion fund would commence next week.
He said: “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.
“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.”
Kure further said 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.”
“The major challenges we are having is people are submitting bank statements that are not current,” the NIRSAL chief regretted.
“Those who have a business plan might have their application processed 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 also explained.
He reminded applicants of the status of the fund, saying 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.
“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.”
The bank chief said out of the number that had so far applied, 40,000 were households.
He said the major objective of the facility was “to allow firms stay in business and ensure people stay employed and mitigate harm on the economy.”
Commenting on the controversial plan, he 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.”
He however said, with the outcry trailing the introduction of charges, “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.
The NIRSAL boss said the bank would still consider applications from credible businesses and households affected by COVID-19 with a view to mitigating same.