The Federal Government on Thursday inaugurated two schemes to support Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), to cushion the effects of COVID-19 and save over 100,000 small businesses.
Reports has it that the two schemes, Survival Fund and the Guaranteed Off-take Stimulus Schemes, were under the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP) of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
The Minister of State, Industry, Trade and Investment, Amb. Mariam Katagum, Chairperson of the Steering Committee, who inaugurated the schemes at a World Press Conference, said that over 1.7 million Nigerians would be impacted.
According to the minister, part of the terms of reference of the NESP include, the support of MSMEs and the creation of jobs, hence the inauguration.
Going by recent statistics released by SMEDAN and the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) over 95 per cent of the 41 million MSMEs in Nigeria are micro businesses. Consequently the nation could not afford to neglect this huge segment of its economic landscape.
“It is in view of the foregoing that the NESP has given high priority to the implementation of the MSMEs Survival Fund and the Guaranteed Off-take Schemes.
“The survival fund scheme is expected to commence immediately while the GOS will follow as soon as the modalities are put in place properly to meet current realities.
“The survival fund is a conditional grant to support vulnerable Micro and Small enterprises in meeting their payroll obligations and safeguard jobs in MSMEs from the shock of the COVID- 19 pandemic.
“The scheme is estimated to save at least 1.3 million jobs across the country, while targeting an average of 35,000 individuals per state,” she said.
She explained that there were two categories of beneficiaries: Employees of MSMEs and self employed individuals.
According to the minister, prerequisites for qualification include that the employees’ company be registered, employee must have a BVN, the company must have a staff strength of not less than three and must be owned by a Nigerian.
For the guaranteed off-take stimulus scheme, she explained that the impact of the lockdown occasioned by COVID-19, led to a fall in Nigerian corporate and household demands, forcing consumers to spend primarily on essential goods and services.
“The MSMEs guaranteed off-take stimulus scheme is one of federal government’s economic support measures to assist micro and small businesses affected by the pandemic.
“The target beneficiaries for the guaranteed scheme will be micro and small businesses registered in Nigeria.
“We will leverage on the databases of micro and small enterprises in identifying those businesses that will qualify under the program and will save about 400,000 jobs.
“Let me reiterate that the scheme will give preference to products produced in reasonably sufficient volumes in each state which have proven propensity to create jobs and have a multiplier effect on the surrounding economy.
“It is to be noted that the two schemes are expected to be implemented over an initial period of three months in order to provide immediate relief from the economic impact of the pandemic,” she said.
She disclosed that the government was putting in place mechanisms for effective and efficient monitoring and evaluation of the implementation matrix.
She, however, called for the support of the media and indeed all Nigerians to the success of the projects.