By Oluwafunke Ishola
The Bank of Industry (BoI) says its N310 billion five-year financing programme for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) will fast track expansion of the sector.
Mr Waheed Olagunju, the Acting Managing Director of BoI, said this while delivering a lecture entitled: “SMEs as a catalyst for sustained economic growth in Nigeria” on Wednesday in Lagos.
The lecture was organised by the Chartered Institute of Personnel Management of Nigeria (CIPMN).
According to him, the N310 billion is targeted at improving disbursement of medium and long term lending between 2015 and 2019 to SMEs.
He said that 60,000 jobs was created with the N15 billion disbursed in 2015 with a projected target of N26.2 billion, N45.9 billion, N80.3 billion and N140.6 billion in subsequent years.
The acting managing director said that SMEs could operate in all sectors of the economy, adding that opportunities and risk of SMEs depended on the operating environment of the country.
According to him, the bank manages more than 32 national development schemes and intervention funds on behalf of private, public and foreign agencies that SMEs can leverage upon.
Olagunju urged operators to plug into the supply chain of large firms to fill the existing gaps in various sectors.
Also speaking, Dr Abiodun Adedipe, an economist, said that the country was in dire need of an energised SMEs sector, adding that the past GDP growth of the economy was not an inclusive growth.
He said that the GDP growth experienced in the last 16 years did not create jobs, thereby leading to high unemployment rate.
According to him, creating and empowering SMEs will improve job creation as well as solution to socio-economic challenges in the country.
Mr Kyari Bukar, the Chairman, Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) said that SMEs growth in the country depended on events in the global community.
Bukar represented by Dr Segun Omisakin, said that the need to understand political, economic and regulatory terrain of the international community would boost SMEs development.
In his remarks, Mr Anthony Arabome, President, CIPM urged government to eliminate obstacles that constituted impediments to SMEs’ development in the country.
He said eliminating hindrances would attract more people into the sector that was widely acknowledged as the driver of the economy.