The Micro-Finance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC) has presented a cheque for GH¢1 million to the fire victims of the Darkuman Kokompe Spare Parts Market in Accra.

A total of 210 spare parts dealers whose wares were destroyed by the fire a month ago are to benefit from the loan. The loan, which is to be paid within 12 months with a two-month grace period, attracts a total of 24 per cent interest. The release of the loan followed a directive by the Vice-President, John Dramani Mahama, to MASLOC to help the fire victims to get back to business. A month ago he led a government delegation to the market to make a donation of roofing sheets, pieces of wood, bags of cement and nails. Fire gutted more than 4,000 shops at the market in October, destroying vehicles, spare parts and other items running into thousands of Ghana cedis. Fortunately, nobody was killed in the incident.

Presenting the cheque, the Chief Executive Officer of MASLOC, Bertha Ansah-Djan, said the spare parts dealers played a crucial role in terms of selling vehicle spare parts to many Ghanaians. Therefore, she said, the extension of the loan was to help the fire victims to re-start and grow their businesses so they could continue to be of service to people. Ms. Ansah-Djan asked the dealers to build their stores with concrete to reduce the risk of fire. She stressed the need for them to insure their wares to enable them to get some assistance to restart business in the event of any loss of property. She also urged the expected beneficiaries to try to repay their loans on time.

The Accra Metropolitan Chief Executive, Alfred Vanderpuije, said the presentation of the cheque was a testimony of the Better Ghana Agenda, which sought to improve people’s living standards. He urged the spare dealers to continue to maintain the standards that had enabled them to secure the loans, since that was the only way that they could grow their businesses. Mr. Vanderpuije stressed that many Ghanaians depended on them for spare parts and asked them to be “responsible in their operations”.

The Chairman of the Kokompe Spare Parts Dealers Association, Kingsley Anane Yeboah, thanked the government for the prompt manner it facilitated the release of the loans. The loans would assist the fire victims to get back to business, and gave an assurance that those who would benefit from the facility would repay the loans promptly.

500 more taxi’s to be given to drivers

MASLOC to empower professional drivers to own taxi cabs Microfinance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC), under its Vehicle Hire Purchase Scheme, is to distribute in January 500 Hyundai saloon cars to unemployed professional drivers who want to own their taxis. The scheme is targeted at empowering individual drivers, especially the youth, who belong to Taxi and Drivers’ Unions, to own their vehicles after paying the loan facility within a four-year period.

CEO of MASLOC , Madam Bertha Ansah Djan presenting the cheque to Mr. Kingsley, Chairman of the Kokompe Spare Parts Dealers

Bertha Ansah-Djan, Chief Executive Officer of MASLOC, told the Ghana News Agency last  month that she hoped the roll out of the scheme would gradually help in phasing out old and rickety vehicles and to reduce accidents.

Ms. Ansah-Djan said the scheme would encourage drivers to drive more carefully and to use authorised routes since as car owners they would be under no pressure to make their daily sales. She said the repayment of the facility was flexible such that the drivers could decide either to give daily, weekly, bi-weekly or monthly an amount of not less than GH¢25 a day. Ms. Ansah-Djan said though the driver would be financially responsible for car maintenance and routine mechanical servicing, they could only patronise MASLOC-approved service centres.

She said MASLOC had formed a partnership with the National Drivers’ Academy to educate beneficiary drivers on the importance of car maintenance, proper dressing and grooming and good customer relations. Ms. Ansah-Djan said Ghana served as an attractive destination because the country was rich in natural resources including the commercial production of oil and gas.

She said taxi drivers were the first point of call to tourists, stressing the need for them to be well dressed and groomed. Ms. Ansah-Djan encouraged women to participate in professional and commercial driving and advised drivers and motorists to observe traffic regulations and safety tips to prevent road crash during the upcoming yuletide.

On the 2012 budgetary allocation to MASLOC, she expressed gratitude to government, stressing that the organisation would engage in a number of income-generating projects in 2012. Ms. Ansah-Djan said it would continue to provide microcredit facilities to small businesses, especially women, to accelerate employment creation and income generation for poverty reduction and shared goals.

She said MASLOC would also provide support to economic activities at the agro-processing sector to make them viable and sustainable. The government last month voted GH¢35 million for MASLOC in the 2012 budget to enable it to continue to support the value chain processes through the provision of loans. MASLOC was established to provide, manage and regulate, approved funds for microfinance and small scale credit schemes and programmes.

The centre targets mainly the productive poor and vulnerable in society, including women, physically challenged and youth, to provide quick and easily accessible micro-credit facilities. Economic activities funded by the centre include food crops, agro-processing, poultry, micro-enterprise, vocations, handicrafts, fish farming and agricultural machinery. The total amount of loans given since Ms. Ansah-Djan assumed office in August 2009 amounts to over GH¢20 million.