By Chijioke Okoronkwo
Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) are globally recognised as key drivers of economic growth. In Nigeria, successive governments have rolled out various schemes and programmes aimed at boosting the MSMEs.
Available statistics indicate that Nigeria has 37 million MSMEs which account for over 84 per cent of jobs in the country and contribute 40 per cent to Nigeria’s GDP.
Nonetheless, no other time in Nigeria has the Federal Government focused more on development and incentivising of the MSMEs than in the present administration.
In 2017, the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, launched MSMEs Clinic – an initiative of the Office of the Vice President in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment.
It was part of Federal Government’s efforts to encourage the contributions of the MSMEs to Nigeria’s economic growth.
In the course of the MSMEs Clinic, Osinbajo had interactions with over 300,000 MSMEs across the country.
The clinic culminated in the cash-backed maiden edition of MSMEs Award 2018, held at the State House Banquet Hall, Abuja, with a view to encouraging entrepreneurship and recognising outstanding MSMEs.
Speaking at the event, Osinbajo said that the Federal Government was working towards providing MSMEs credit facility of N2milion to N10 million without collateral.
The acting president said he was delighted to reward and recognise outstanding MSMEs as they represented remarkable examples of Nigerian entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation.
According to him, efforts are underway to double government’s commitment to ensuring that MSMEs find an enabling environment to thrive.
He said that in addition to the one-stop-shop launched in some states to carry the MSMEs clinics intervention, the Federal Government would soon launch its shared facilities for MSMEs initiative.
Osinbajo said the initiative would be in partnership with the Bank of Industry (BOI), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM) and the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC).
“This initiative will provide MSMEs access to fully equipped cluster style facilities for which they can pay an affordable fee to operate.
“These facilities would have been pre-certified by relevant agencies like NAFDAC, Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Industrial Training Fund (ITF) and NEPC, thereby removing the layers of bureaucracy that in the past held back many aspiring entrepreneurs.
“In the shared facilities, you already have the requisite licences that regulate your operation. So, using the facilities means that you will not go through all the regulatory bureaucracies.
“We will also partner with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and commercial banks to launch a credit facility that will make available to MSMEs loans from N2million to N10million with a period of five to seven years with little or no collateral.
“The interest rate will be five per cent. All that you need is to provide the committee with a bankable business proposal and guarantor,’’ he said.
Osinbajo said that the Federal Government was also exploring an initiative by Corporate Affairs Commission(CAC), to allow a special window of 90 days for MSMEs, which had not registered their businesses to do so at a highly subisidised price.
He said he was aware of complaints from some states and warned that he would not tolerate the shirking of responsibilities from agencies on the one-stop- shop for MSMEs.
Hajiya Aisha Abubakar, the Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, who also spoke, commended Osinbajo over the MSMEs clinics initiative and awards.
She said that efforts were being made to give the MSMEs expert advice on legal, accounting, among other areas to strengthen their businesses.
The awards were in 12 categories–NEXIM Bank Excellence Award in Agriculture, won by Promaka Farms, Imo; NAFDAC/SON Excellence Award in Beauty and Wellnesss, won by Yelwa Shea Butter, Sokoto; DBN/ITF Award on Fashion and Style, won by Hanbows, Oyo State.
Others are CBN Young MSME Award, won by Chrisblo Glimmer Touch, Cross River and MSME of the Year Award, won by Bennie Agro Machineries, Plateau; NEPC Award in Creative Arts, CAC Award on Furniture and Wood Works, SMEDAN Awards on Leather works, BOI Award on Manufacturing.
Also featured were NITDA Award on Technology Innovation, FIRS Award on Non-Profit Service to Humanity, and Most Friendly MSMEs State won by Abia.
Adetola Agbeniyi, a female shoemaker, who won the SMEDAN Excellence Award on Leather Works, said she was excited that her effort was coming to limelight.
Agbeniyi, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Princesstol Creative World, maker of leather goods and accessories, was one of the outstanding entrepreneurs at the award.
The CEO said that her company produced leather goods such as shoes, bags, gifts wallets, orthopedic shoes and lunch packs, among others.
The Osun born entrepreneur said she started training in leather works when she was a corps member in 2014, and later proceeded for advanced training.
“I saw one made in Nigeria shoe online and was surprised it was actually made in Nigeria, very good shoes.
“I had to trace the maker and when I saw his products I was impressed and told myself, I can equally make it because I always had in mind to do something for myself; improve the economy and employ people.
“My business is just one year and within that period, I have employed 10 persons and trained six apprentices.
“We are making sales; in a month, our turnover is about N400,000.’’
She said that owning a business was the way out of the `no jobs mantra’ in Nigeria as it would enable one to become an employer of labour.
Agbeniyi said she attended the Osun MSMEs Clinic, adding that the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo was very impressed by her products.
“I am highly pleased with the award,’’ she said.
Another awardee, Jerry Mallo, the Chief Executive Officer, Bennie Agro Machineries, Plateau, who won the MSMEs Award of the Year, said that his firm was into manufacturing of agro machineries and industrial machinery.
“We produce machines that aid in planting, weeding and harvesting; we also produce machines that add value to agro products such as rice processing machines, cassava processing machines, yam and potato processing machines.
“I have passion for automotive manufacturing, but I asked myself what is the need of the society that I can solve and I saw that the immediate need was in the agricultural sector; hence the need for agro machinery.
“ For now, we produce manually we also need patronage from other states,’’ he said
On his part, Mr Ude Oko Chukwu, Deputy Governor of Abia , said the state would continue to encourage MSMEs to improve on the quality of their products and to let them know that people appreciated what they are doing.
He said that the state government patronised the MSMEs in order to encourage them.
He said that the governor and all his cabinet members wear made in Aba garments.
“By so doing, they gain more confidence and the demands would increase; more so, their economy will increase and over time, Nigerians not only Abians will begin to appreciate made in Aba products.
`We are very pleased with the award,’’ he said.
Also speaking, Gov. Simon Lalong of Plateau, said that he felt very honoured on the achievement of MSMEs from the state.
Lalong said the whole state was pleased with the award given to Jallo as it was an example of what the state represented.
He said that the state had set up an agency for MSMEs and appreciated the Federal Government through the vice president for establishing the scheme.
“You can see the exposure; this young man produced a tractor that is working without fuel.
“He is doing fine. I advise other states to look inwards and harness the potential of the youths,’’ he said.
Stakeholders are of the view that sustained incentives to the MSMEs will boost economic growth and development of the country.