Monday, March 7, 2011

A $32 million offering to informal entrepreneurs

The Dangote Foundation--a charitable group created by one of Nigeria's most successful entrepreneurs--has joined with Nigeria's Bank of Industry to create a 5 billion naira ($32 million) fund to invest in the informal economy, Worldstage magazine reports. The money would be used to bolster working capital so entrepreneurial outfits can grow and would be loaned out to informal businesses at 5 percent interest.

Aliko Dangote, whose various businesses include cement, food, beverages, and real estate, said the fund would grow to 20 billion naira--or better than $100 million US--and could spur the creation of as many as a million jobs.

Nigeria has more than 150 million people and it would be easy to dismiss $32 million as a minuscule investment. But it is also an important first step. In establishing the fund, the government and the private sector are implicitly acknowledging the strength of the sub-rosa economic sphere and its importance for Nigeria's future.

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