Ekeh, Zinox boss, fights poverty in Imo State with N1.5bn Fund
Chairman, Zinox Group, Leo Stan Ekeh has declared a three-year interest free loan of N1b to petty traders and small and medium businesses in Imo State. Ekeh, a native of Imo State, said the intervention was to reduce hardship, stimulate business activities and give hope to majority of the people in the state.
The serial digital entrepreneur also launched an educational support project for indigent but intelligent students of the state to enable them acquire proper university education. For this, Ekeh set up a non-interest revolving loan scheme of N500m.
He made this disclosure at the flag-off/groundbreaking of the construction/rehabilitation of rural roads by the Imo State Government. The event, which held on Tuesday, August 27th at Ubomiri, Mbaitoli Local Government, had in attendance, the Imo State Governor, Emeka Ihedioha. Also in attendance were traditional rulers and partner agencies from the World Bank and French Development Agency (AFD).
Indigent students will benefit from the revolving loan scheme to further and complete their education. Graduates from the scheme will also be exposed to employment opportunities.
Subsequently, the graduate-beneficiaries will be expected to refund the loan once they are gainfully employed at zero interest. This will ensure the sustenance of the scheme and allow others benefit from it.
First Class graduates will be exempted from repayment of the loans as reward for their sterling performance. 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 reposition Imo state as the envy of all. Additionally, the serial digital entrepreneur revealed that Imo State is being used as a model. He disclosed that if it works, the efforts will be replicated in more states in Nigeria.
The Zinox boss equally donated 20 laptops and a set of printers to the Imo State Government.
“I am very sure other well-meaning Nigerians will borrow 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 use myself as a 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 same in the ICT sector in the last 15 years with over N10b 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?”
Ekeh, a global advisor to Microsoft, revealed that he has not slept in his mansion in Owerri in the past six years.
“Each time I visit home, I often leave depressed. This is because of the state of things and the money I have to spend to help out those in dire conditions. With these interventions, I am confident that things will take a positive turn soon,” he affirmed.
In his speech at the event, Gov. Ihedioha expressed appreciation to Ekeh for the humanitarian and noble gesture, even as he expressed pride in the Zinox Boss.
“Imo State is proud to have a son like Leo Stan Ekeh. I am aware he put up some of his assets in order to raise the funds for the projects he has announced today. May God continually bless him for all that he does for humanity. I am hopeful that other well-meaning Imo indigenes will join us to rebuild the state.”
Speaking at the event, Chief Victor Emeto heaped encomiums on the Zinox boss.
“Leo Stan Ekeh is the next to God not just in Imo State and our town Ubomiri in particular. He carries all our responsibilities from school and church building and maintenance to raising nursery schools in every church.
“He has an annual budget for every church in the community and does not limit it to Catholics only. Same with the education of our children and electricity. What is more disarming is his humility and quietness with which he does these things.
“In fact, he picks every phone call from anybody from this town, no matter how small. Any time he is home, he sits on the floor with us to discuss our problems.”
Also lending his voice was the oldest man in the Ubomiri community, Nze Moses Duru.
“Chief Leo Stan Ekeh is God-sent to Imo State. We are aware he supports other states in Nigeria. That is why we continue to pray for him and he does things without making noise.”
Nze Duru ended by disclosing that Ekeh was equally responsible for facilitating the electricity in the village.