Some Nigerian business owners have lauded the Federal Government’s announcement of intervention funds for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to enable them to overcome challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The business owners told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in separate interviews on Thursday in Abuja that the initiative was laudable and would serve as a respite for not just business owners but Nigerians at large.
NAN reports that the Federal Government had recently announced the implementation of intervention funds designed to cushion the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on MSMEs, especially the micro and small businesses.
The Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Amb. Mariam Katagum said the Federal Government was set to commence nationwide implementation of two MSMEs initiatives under the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP).
According to her, the two initiatives are the National MSME Survival Fund and the Guaranteed Off-take Stimulus Schemes with N75 billion to be rolled out for MSMEs over an initial period of three months.
However, entrepreneurs and other relevant stakeholders commended the Federal Government for giving utmost priority to the MSME sub-sector in its efforts towards repositioning the economy.
Dr. Sidney Inegbedion, the President of Nigeria Entrepreneur Forum (NEF) said: “We are at the Nigeria Entrepreneur Forum are pleased to learn about the Federal Government’s initiative to assist the MSMEs in these challenging times.’’
“The COVID-19 social distancing order that affected the movement of goods and services really posed great challenges for the survival of MSMEs.
“We must also appreciate the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment in its efforts to ameliorate the problem that affects the MSMEs, as the N75 billion will go a long way in these trying times.
“We also encouraged that the process for implementation is transparent and open for the people, especially those in the rural areas.
“You know in a society like Nigeria where most of the micro and small businesses are in rural areas, communication is a major problem and access to facilities is also a challenge.”
Inegbedion said that since many micro and small business owners in the rural areas had little or no access to digital platforms, there was a need for trade groups to be involved in the implementation process.
READ ALSO: Access Bank launches TraderLite for MSMEs
He said that the organised private sector institutions should also be carried along for their inputs in the identification of their members to determine who was really an MSME.
Mr. Usma Sani, the Chairman of Karu chapter of the Association of Table Water Producers (ATWAP), commended the Federal Government for the inauguration of the intervention for MSMEs.
He said that micro and small businesses create a lot of jobs in local communities, and their survival was crucial to the national economy.
Sani, therefore, called for transparency and adequate information in the implementation process for the fund to get to deserving entrepreneurs.
“There are cases in time past where you cannot benefit from such funds if you don’t know anyone to help you and that is very bad.
“That has made many of our members show little or no interest in such opportunities,” he said.
NAN reports that the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment said its indicator of success will be the number of Nigerians who are able to benefit from the scheme without having to “know someone”.
It said the relevant committee was working round the clock to ensure that Nigerians benefited from each scheme seamlessly.