REPORT ON THE WORKSHOP ON “ACCESSING MICRO CREDIT LOANS” ORGANIZED BY AFRIGROWTH FOUNDATION IN COLLABORATION WITH IC-GLOBAL MICRO-FINANCE BANK AT SIGNATURE SUITES ASABA, 17TH OCTOBER 2008 Micro-credit loans are dynamic efforts to enable the poor participate in the economy with objective of being self reliant. It has been identified as a major means for poverty alleviation as access to it will increase income & earning capacity. It is in line with this that AfriGrowth Foundation in collaboration with IC-Global micro-finance bank organized a one day workshop on “Accessing Micro-credit Loans” at Signature Suites Asaba on the 17th October 2008 for community based organizations & co-operatives. The workshop started at 9am with registration of participants. There was a short opening ceremony which started with introduction of special Guest. A welcome address was delivered by Hon Prosper Irogbo from IC-Global Micro-finance Bank after which Mrs. Keshi, the president/Founder of AfriGrowth Foundation also welcomed the participants and gave a brief background on AfriGrowth Foundation. The workshop proper started at about 10:30 am. The first paper, “Starting a small Enterprise” was presented by Mrs. Dayo Keshi. She gave a brief introduction of what a Small Enterprise is. She also noted that in starting up a small business, you must have the right attitude as this is very key in running a successful enterprise. Also different types of businesses based on service line & ownership were identified e.g Manufacturing Enterprise, Service Enterprise, Sole Proprietorship etc. She also emphasized on the importance of having a Feasibility Report. She defined the feasibility report as “ a researched and well written report on whether a business idea is achievable or profitable” She went further to list out the content of a Feasibility Report. Linda Yabrifa from AfriGrowth Foundation took the participants through “Having a business plan” in her presentation shed noted the following, You form your business plan after you have identified the kind of business you wish to go into. Your business plan should be written according to the unique factors and conditions of your enterprise. Your business plan should also state your objectives clearly and how they will be accomplished. She also listed the content of a business plan. Nonye Orakwue also from AfriGrowth Foundation wrapped up the presentation on “starting a small enterprise” by identifying the possible sources of finance for a small enterprise. The following were listed as sources of finance: Micro-Finance Banks Government Financial Assistance e.g. NAPEP, SMEDAN Personal Savings Family and Friends. She concluded by telling the participants that as an entrepreneur they have a social Responsibility to their employees & their community and they should always give the customers their money” worth. The second paper presentation “Starting up a Cooperative” was delivered by Ms. Uzoma Chukwudozie from Community Development Partners (CODEP) Port-Harcourt. She defined a Cooperative as a “group of persons with same objectives, who come together to pull their financial and non financial resources for the enhancement of their standard of living” She noted in her presentation that cooperatives have been in existence as far back as 1844. She further noted that cooperatives are registered by the Nigerian Co-operative Societies Decree of 26th August 1993 and that Co-operatives commence registration at the Local Government level. Co-operatives are also required by law to have at least 6-10 members depending on the type of co-operative. The following categories of cooperatives were identified. Primary Society Industrial Society School cooperative Society Secondary Society She noted that “using the term co-operative without being duly registered is a criminal offence she went further to say that eligibility into a co-operative requires some basic criteria e.g. Be involved in income generating activities that will enhance the earning capacity of members Members must be resident in the community. Show evidence of regular attendance to the co-operative society meetings Furthermore, co-operatives are based on values of self help, self responsibility, democracy, equality & solidarity. She concluded the paper by emphasizing on the benefits of belonging to a viable co-operative society. One of the benefits of joining a cooperative is that it is about the only arrangement under which you are allowed to collect up to twice or thrice the amount you have in savings as loans when you are due for one. The last paper “Introduction to Micro – Credit Loans” was presented by Mrs. Funmilayo O Oni from IC – Global Micro – Finance Bank. She defined micro – credit loans as “small loans that are given to the active poor without collateral to help expand and increase their small and medium scale businesses and Cooperatives”. She identified five major means of accessing micro –credit loans. They are: Licensed micro finance banks Foreign and local investors Local government State government Federal government. On the issue of who should apply for a loan, she noted that IC – Global provides credit facility to all customers who include self help groups, individuals, associations and organizations. She further stated that in applying for a loan, the following should be taken into consideration: Reliability of members of the group in terms of character Signature/group guarantee Recommendation letter from a respected/reputable leader in the society. Completion of loan forms. She concluded by saying that micro – credit loans are short term loans that are repaid over a period of six months minimum and twelve months maximum as the case maybe and also allows one month period of grace. At the end of the paper presentations the participants were given the opportunity to ask questions based on the papers that were presented. Certificates were presented to the participants by Nonye Orakwue of AfriGrowth Foundation and Hon. Prosper Irogbo of IC – Global Micro finance bank The workshop came to a close at about 4pm.