The Federal Government has said its Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) initiative will boost the country’s economy and create jobs for teeming youths.
Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo disclosed this in Gombe State, while launching the 27th edition of the National MSMEs Clinic held at the Pantami Stadium, Gombe.
Speaking at the event, Prof. Osinbajo said the MSMEs initiative of the Federal Government was aimed at boosting the economy of the country as well as creating jobs for Nigerian youths.
He said that the programme was an initiative of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to support small businesses across the country, under the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP), and help young businesses and the vulnerable.
“The programme has benefited Gombe state, with over 9,085 employees from close to 2,000 MSMEs in the education sector alone benefitting from the scheme.
Another 10,000 artisans and transporters in the state have also benefited, while 6,000 new businesses had been registered free of charge with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).
“MSMEs in Gombe state have been supported by the Federal Government with almost N1.2 billion under the ESP. There is more to come, the Federal Government will provide more support; additional businesses and employees, we are told, are undergoing verifications to be shortlisted for payment.
Earlier, Vice President Osinbajo had visited the Gombe Industrial Cluster, where he inspected small-scale businesses that form the clusters consisting mainly of groundnut oil and rice millers.
It would be recalled that the businesses were mostly supported by the Bank of Industry (BoI) with soft loans, purchase of machinery among others, a development that revived several SMEs and saved them from collapsing.
BoI State Manager in Gombe Office, James Barde, noted that over 30, 000 MSMEs in the State got payment support from the bank to help them remain in business despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Apart from the large enterprises and other special divisions in our Head Office, the BOI state offices are basically involved in the support of MSMEs, especially start-up companies.
We also support existing companies that want to expand their capacity, extend their technology and rehabilitate their businesses,” he explained.
On his part, the Chairman of the Gombe State Groundnut Oil Millers Association, Mohammed Sani, appreciated BOI and the Federal Government’s effort which he said has been boosting small-scale businesses.
He revealed that over 700 milling machines were used by his members, with many of them procured through the BOI while over 25, 000 direct and indirect jobs created, as well as over 1,400 tonnes of groundnut were being processed daily.
Meanwhile, the Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Ambassador Mariam Yelwaji Katagum, described the MSMEs sector as the engine of growth of any economy, contributing to development, job creation and export capacity.
Katagum said the latest Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS) survey on MSMEs showed that the sector contributed 50 percent of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and accounted for 80 percent employment.
The minister added that the MSMEs sector was key in reducing poverty and unemployment, hence the move by the Federal Government to leverage the sector to impact positively on the living standards of Nigerians.
Also speaking, Gombe State Governor, Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya said the MSMEs initiative would help small and medium scale businesses in areas of improving access to finance and business registrations.
He disclosed that access to the market; skills acquisition and compliance with regulatory requirements were also included in the initiative.
Governor Yahaya appreciated the Federal Government’s programme to improve the living standards of citizens of the state, saying that his administration was working hard to create an environment conducive for businesses to thrive.