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Economy

BoI to Pilot Scheme for Youth, Women Entrepreneurs in Rural Areas

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Bank of Industry (BoI) has introduced the Rural Area Programme on Investment and Development (RAPID), which aims to empower youth and women-led businesses in underserved regions.

RAPID is to provide capital and opportunities to rural communities, in addressing challenges like rural-urban migration.

The Managing Director of BOI, Mr Olasupo Olusi, disclosed during the launch in Lagos, saying that RAPID was designed to foster economic inclusion by providing rural dwellers with equitable access to capital.

Mr Olusi stated that this access to capital was crucial to enhance commercial and economic activities as well as address the inadequacies in existing intervention programmes, primarily favoured urban areas.

He said that the initiative offered substantial financial support, with potential funding of up to 10 million naira per project.

He added that RAPID targeted existing small businesses seeking expansion capacity and new startups with a focus on youth and women-owned businesses.

According to him, the terms include a three-year repayment plan with a six-month moratorium at a concessionary interest rate of five per cent.

“As a pilot launch, it is limited to 10 beneficiaries per state and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) totalling 370 beneficiaries.

“The grant component is developed to incentivise good repayment and businesses with significant social impact in employment generation for women and youth.

“To ensure the programme’s accessibility, applications can be submitted via a dedicated online portal or physically at any BOI district office nationwide starting May 15,” he said.

The Executive Director of Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, BOI, Mr Omar Shekarau, said that RAPID covers all 36 states and the FCT.

According to him, it will focus on sectors like agriculture, textiles, garment manufacturing, leather goods, and food processing and preservation.

He said this comprehensive coverage would ensure that the benefits of economic growth were felt across the country, transforming rural areas into burgeoning economic hubs.

Mr Shekarau added that beyond financial support, capacity building was a critical component of the initiative.

He said by empowering entrepreneurs with the necessary knowledge and skills, RAPID aimed to ensure sustainable development and long-term self-sufficiency for rural businesses.

“As RAPID rolls out, the BOI anticipates significant improvements in job creation, financial inclusion, and economic diversification, which are expected to contribute to national prosperity and stem the tide of migration from rural areas to cities.

“The programme not only represents a significant investment in Nigeria’s rural economies but also serves as a model for future initiatives.

“This aims to achieve inclusive growth and sustainable development across West Africa,” he said.

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