Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, on Monday at a virtual meeting said that small businesses remained the engines of growth for the nation’s economy, especially in the areas of wealth creation and employment opportunities.
He said that in partnership with the private sector, the Federal Government would continue to support innovation and interventions to support small businesses growth nationwide to create more job opportunities for Nigerians.
Osinbajo, who gave this hint at the first meeting of MSMEs stakeholders for the year 2021, urged stakeholders in the public and private sectors to be innovative in their interventions for small businesses in order to consolidate on the gains recorded in the MSMEs sub-sector in the past few years.
A statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Office of the Vice President, Laolu Akande, quoted the Vice President as harping on the scale and scope of interventions for the MSME sector and the need for sustaining such efforts.
He said: “We must continue to be innovative in the interventions that we plan for MSMEs because small businesses are the engines of growth of any economy, in the areas of wealth creation and employment opportunities, MSMEs are very important.
“We have to think out of the box in our engagements going forward. We need to change the way we do many things, we need to look for ways of multiplying our efforts because the challenges in this space are greater than what we have been able to achieve so far.
“Of course, we have done a lot, but looking at the numbers in need, you will find out that there is a lot more to be done”, the Vice President added.
On the implementation of the MSMEs Survival Fund and the impact on the economy, he said “the implementation of the Survival Fund by the Federal Government has sent the right signals that MSMEs are an important component of the economy.”
According to him, by working together Nigeria can achieve more in the MSMEs space.
Earlier in her remarks, the Minister of State, Industry, Trade and Investment, Ambassador Mariam Katagum said the implementation of the Survival Fund across different areas substantially reduced the burden of the pandemic on businesses.
The minister said: “Having impacted over 300,000 beneficiaries under the Payroll Support scheme, paying them N30,000 and N50,000 as at December 2020; and completing the enumeration and disbursement to 166,000 Artisans as at December 2020, the Federal Government, through the Survival Fund, has filled the gap created as a result of the pandemic.”
Katagum pointed out that the support provided through the Survival Fund would go a long way in mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic based on the comments or testimonies of beneficiaries of the various tracks under the scheme.
In his remarks, the Special Adviser on Economic Matters to the President, Ambassador Adeyemi Dipeolu, harped on the need for stakeholders to consider the possibility of expanding the scope of the MSMEs Clinics to cover more beneficiaries as a strategic step towards consolidating on the modest achievements of past efforts.
He pointed out that with the limiting of the Clinics to Nasarawa and Ebonyi States last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the secretariat, in line with the directive of the Vice President, planned to take the Clinics to the remaining states of Benue, Imo, Lagos, Gombe, Adamawa, and Jigawa.
This, he said, would ensure total coverage of the country and prepare the ground for a possible nationwide second round of the Clinics.
Ambassador Dipeolu listed some other initiatives that required improvement in collaboration and scope of implementation as including the Shared Facility Scheme, which was launched in Benue and Lagos states last year with Anambra and Kaduna launching being expected this year.
According to him, the scheme has proved to be one of the key products of the MSMEs Clinics that needs to be broadened in scope and sustained.
Commenting at the meeting the Managing Director, Bank of Industry, Mr. Kayode Pitan, pointed out that the partnership with stakeholders waxed stronger in 2020 despite the COVID-19 disruptions.
The banker said that the development finance bank through collaboration with other stakeholders, would adopt strategies that will grow the MSMEs space in the years ahead by providing funding and other guarantees.
In his remarks at the forum, the Managing Director of Access Bank, Mr. Herbert Wigwe, who represented the organized private sector (OPS), restated the commitment of the sector in supporting the Buhari administration’s vision for MSMEs through the various initiatives implemented in the Clinics and Shared Facility Scheme.
Also, , the Executive Director/CEO of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Mr. Segun Awolowo, harped on the importance of collaboration among agencies in the MSMEs space in actualizing the objectives of the Federal Government.
He promised that the NEPC would leverage existing and renewed cooperation among agencies to actualize its new project tagged ‘From Pandemic to Prosperity’ , to support businesses in coping with the COVID-19 disruptions.
This is even as the Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof. Moji Adeyeye, recalled that the COVID-19 pandemic hampered the regulatory efforts of the agency last year, but that some innovations introduced in the wake of the pandemic helped in enhancing its operations, particularly in terms of products’ certification.
The Federal Government’s MSMEs Survival Fund grant scheme is a component under the Nigerian Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP) and a conditional grant to support vulnerable MSMEs in meeting their payroll obligations and safeguarding jobs in the MSMEs subsector.
The scheme is estimated to save not less than 1.3 million jobs across the country. Commending stakeholders for their cooperation and commitment in the implementation of schemes and initiatives in the MSMEs sector,