The Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria, SMEDAN, has earmarked N103.5 million as grants for 2,070 small scale business owners in Sokoto state.
The Director-General of SMEDAN, Dr Dikko Umar-Radda, said this on Monday in Sokoto that 2,070 at the flag-off of the Conditional Grant Scheme, CGS, for beneficiaries in 23 local government areas of the state.
He said 90 people were selected in each of the local government areas, adding that SMEDAN would train the beneficiaries, facilitate their business registration and disburse the funds directly into their bank accounts.
The SMEDAN D-G said that a survey conducted recently revealed that 37 million Micro Small and Medium Enterprises, MSME, engaged 59.7 million people, and represented 96 percent of business activities in the county.
Mr Umar-Radda said that the figure of those employed represented 84.2 percent of the country’s labour force, contributing 7.27 percent of the Gross Domestic Product, GDP.
According to him, 90 percent of the micro enterprises are informal and populated by people at the bottom of the pyramid, hence the introduction of Condition Grant Scheme, CGS, for micro enterprises in Nigeria.
He said that the process would enable informal enterprises metamorphosis into the formal sector, industrialise the nation, develop the rural economy, stem youth restiveness and unemployment as well as create sustainable economic growth and development.
The D-G said that the present move would target capacity building and post-intervention support services such as access to finance, markets, workspace and technology, among others.
He recalled that the scheme was first introduced in 2017 in 145 Local Government Areas of Katsina, Gombe, Ebonyi, Oyo, Akwa Ibom and Benue states.
According to him, 13,000 enterprises in those areas benefited from entrepreneurship training, registration of businesses, provision of insurance and access to finance through a grant of N50,000.
Mr Umar-Radda said that the agency had decided to extend the scheme to Lagos, Bauchi and Sokoto states, targeting 6,000 beneficiaries, to encourage job creation, business formalization, improved productivity and capacity enhancement of the operators.
“The scheme would move the micro-enterprises from the earlier informal to formal, create jobs, wealth and alleviate poverty in the society.
“Others are enhancing competition of these enterprises towards meeting national, regional and global standards as well as improving internally generated revenue to reduce dependence on oil revenue,” he said.
Mr Umar-Radda said that SMEDAN would work in partnership with banks, Federal Inland Revenue Service, business development service providers, state and local governments, insurance companies and Corporate Affairs Commission.
The DG also said that the Federal Government was fully committed to its “One LG One Product” support initiative in each of the 109 Senatorial Districts in the country, towards encouraging small scale entrepreneurship development.
He said that women cooperative societies were selected in Goronyo, Shagari, and Illela local government areas of Sokoto state, processing groundnut, rice and cassava products.
Umar-Radda further said that transparent strategies were adopted in the selection of beneficiaries, who must own existing or initiated business, registered or to be registered among all categories of trades, with proper identifications.
The Minister of State, Commerce, Trade, and Investment, A’isha Abubakar, said that the CGS initiative would stimulate the generation of revenue in the state.
Mrs Abubakar urged the beneficiaries to make judicious use of the funds to be granted to them towards industrial development of the state.
She commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the efforts, noting that it was part of the agenda to diversify the economy from oil to non-oil sectors for efficient productivity in the nation.
Speaking also, Sen. Aliyu Wamakko described the scheme as catalysts in economic drive especially at the grassroots in recognition of the population residing within the localities.
Mr Wamakko expressed gratitude over the overwhelming election victories of President Buhari and APC candidates in the last election and enjoined people to repeat same in the forthcoming governorship and State Assembly elections.
Some of the beneficiaries that spoke on behalf of their colleagues thanked the federal government for the gesture and promised to utilize the funds properly.