Dr Aniefiok Umoren, Zonal Coordinator, South-South and South-East, Development Finance Activities, Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, says Small and Medium Scale Enterprises, SMEs, have the potential to reduce unemployment in the country.
Mr Umoren who disclosed this in a meeting organised in collaboration with the Cross River Government and the Chamber of Commerce in Calabar on Thursday added that the activities of SMEs could also enhance economic growth.
The theme of the event was: “Unlocking the Business Potential of Small and Medium Scale Entrepreneurs, SME’s, in the state.”
He said that the meeting became necessary for entrepreneurs to know the importance CBN placed on presenting them advantageously to ensure they contributed significantly to the nation’s economy.
“We are aware that the micro entrepreneurs in the state have the greatest role of creating employment and adding value to the economy of the state.
“So, CBN is taking the bull by the horn by packaging entrepreneurs so that they can add something robust to the Nigerian economy.
“Everything follows due process because we want to ensure that the right people are getting these funds by preparing their business plan that we will be carefully scrutinise.
“We have to know who you are, the type of business you do, how profitable it is and whether you will be able to pay back the loan as we encourage people who get these loans to pay back so others can benefit,” he said.
The coordinator noted that due to the COVID-19 pandemic currently ravaging the world, the interest rate for loans was five per cent under the apex body’s intervention.
In her remarks, Prof. Christine Ikpeme, Member, Centre for Entrepreneurial Development, University of Calabar, UNICal, said the centre participated in the meeting to tap into the various CBN’s initiatives.
Ikpeme said that the goal of the centre was to know the procedures to follow to enable students get grants from the apex bank after training them in different entrepreneurial skills.
“Prof. Florence Obi, the Vice Chancellor of Unical, is taking it upon herself to ensure that we churn out students who can make something out of their lives instead of waiting for jobs after graduation.
“We train our students in the centre for entrepreneurial development on confectioneries, paint making and many other skills; in fact, we strive to attain and maintain the “dulux” standard in our paints,” she added.
Also, Rosemary Archibong, the Commissioner for Commerce, Cross River, thanked the CBN for its collaboration with state in curbing unemployment.
Mrs Archibong said that the government would leave no stone unturned in ensuring better life for the youths which would in turn benefit the economy of Cross River.