Nigeria’s estimated 17 million Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) constitute an important vehicle for national development as they were nurtured to integrate a large segment of the populace in productive economic activities.
Across the world, most countries have used the Micro and Small Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) platform to combat unemployment as SMEs have been known, globally as engine of economic growth, industrialisation and contributor to employment generation, wealth creation, poverty alleviation and food security.
Improved access to finance, capacity building, constant power supply, favorable government policy among others, have been identified as enablers that would unlock the growth potential of the SMEs sector.
Bank of Industry (BoI) in its effort to provide finance to SMEs at a single digit recently rolled out three innovative financing option to position the MSME sector to play its catalyst’s role in industrialisation.
Last week, BoI signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI) to boost financial inclusion among SME operators for the realization of the development of a virile SME sector in Nigeria. The bank sign and MoU for the $100 million Nigerian Content Intervention Fund (NCI Fund) by the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) to open a new vista of opportunity for indigenous oil and gas companies and also to start the disbursement of N427 million which has been approved for 253 National Youth Scheme Corps (NYSC) members.
All these Funds is in fulfillment of the bank’s commitment to develop special funds and credit products to deepen penetration of and enhance support to specific SME clusters.
At the Graduate Entrepreneurship Fund cheque presentation ceremony in Lagos, the acting managing director of BoI, Mr. Waheed Olagunju, said that disbursements are already in progress, urging the beneficiaries to utilise the opportunity to lift themselves and other youths out of poverty.
Olagunju noted that some institutions in the past have organized skills acquisition and entrepreneurship programmes for youths aimed at building their capacities, such programmes have failed to elicit funding support from financiers.
He said that BoI has offered to bridge the gap with the introduction of the Graduate Entrepreneurship Fund (GEF) programme which was launched on October 5, 2015 in partnership with the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) directorate.
He said the programme was targeted at encouraging graduates to become employers of labour rather than job seekers, to address the entrepreneurship capacity gap of the young NYSC members, deepening financial inclusion by de-risking them and sustaining their businesses.
The consensus of experts and stakeholders is that the future of Nigeria lies more on the leveraging of MSME’s.
Source : Leadership