The Chairman of Zinox Group, Leonard Ekeh, has declared a three-year interest-free loan of N1bn to small and medium-sized enterprises in Imo State to reduce hardship, stimulate business activities and give hope to the common man.
The global advisor to Microsoft also launched an educational support project for indigent but intelligent students of the state to enable them acquire good education. For this, he set up a revolving interest-free loan scheme of N500m.
The businessman stated this at the groundbreaking of the construction of rural roads by the state government on Tuesday, August 27, in his hometown.
Governor Emeka Ihedioha, traditional rulers from Imo and partner agencies from the World Bank and French Development Agency were at the event.
Graduate-beneficiaries are expected to refund the loan without interest once they are gainfully employed, to ensure the sustenance of the scheme.
However, first class graduates are exempted from repayment as a reward for their excellence. Conversely, students whose grades drop to third class will be ejected from the scheme.
Ekeh believes that in the next 10 years, the interventions and the government’s commitment in these respects will make Imo the envy of all.
The digital entrepreneur also revealed that Imo was only being used to pilot the scheme, as it would be replicated in more states in Nigeria “if it works.”
He also donated 20 laptops and printers to the state government.
He said, “I am very sure other well-meaning Nigerians will borrow the same strategies to replicate in their communities. This is not the age of free money and bad wastages. The 21st century is the age of privileges and opportunities.
“Nigerians must imbibe the culture of earning a living and paying back, so that others can benefit. Cash is not inexhaustible. What I have done is using myself as personal collateral in addition to putting up some of my assets to try and bail out a percentage of my people.”
“Indeed, if it works, the multiplier effects shall be far-reaching. If they fail me, it is a disaster, but that is life. I have done the same in the Information and Communications Technology sector in the last 15 years with over N10bn and it is still working. Most successful people in the world did not receive cash from their families, so how did they become globally successful?”he added.