Sustain MSME Funding to Reduce Poverty, Emir Tells World Bank

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Ogheneuvede Ohwovoriole in Abuja

The Emir of Birnin Gwari in Kaduna State, Bawan Allah Zubair Jibril Mai Gwari II, has appealed to the World Bank to sustain the training and funding of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) under its Growth and Empowerment (GEM) project in Nigeria, to help the country in its poverty reduction efforts.

The royal father has also urged the government to renegotiate the terms of the World Bank-assisted project, with a view to extending it beyond the planned end date of March 29, 2019, to ensure payment of grants to the 2019 trainees.

This, he said, was imperative, in order for the project to meet its objectives. The objective of the $160 million GEM project being implemented by the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment and supported by the World Bank, is to increase firm growth and employment in participating firms in Nigeria.

The project, which focuses on manufacturing and service sectors, Information Communication Technology, entertainment, tourism and hospitality, light manufacturing (and agro-processing industries) and construction became effective in July 2013 and is billed to end March 29.

Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) founders trained in 2019 were told the grant/funding component of the project has been discontinued and no reason was given for the decision.

Speaking to journalists in Abuja, the royal father, while commending the initiative, however, said the impact would be better felt with funding to enable business owners train and also empower others.

According to him, “If some people have been trained and empowered, I am appealing to the government that since the project is coming to an end at the end of this month, the way government was able to do it when the programme was supposed to end sometime last year but it was extended.

“I am appealing to the federal government through the Minister of Finance, and Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment and any other good person in government to please extend the life of this programme so that these young people who have been trained will be able to reach their goal. After the training, they should also be empowered with the promised finance so that they can go ahead.”

Continuing, the Emir stated: “From what I’ve been told, there are thousands of young people who have received the training and what they need now is the empowerment. Those who did it at the beginning of the programme have got the training and empowerment.

“So, I am appealing to government to please come to the aid of these young people and extend the life of this programme so that the World Bank and any other person or organisation would have done enough to help Nigerians to become entrepreneurs, employers and promoters of peaceful coexistence.”

Mai Gwari said he was concerned because he had seen the project as one that will help his people and a lot of young people in the South, in the East, the centre and everywhere, particularly in view of prevailing insecurity and youth restiveness.

“These young people are not happy because they have been trained but they can see clearly that in about two weeks, their whole hopes are dashed. And I am appealing to government to reconsider and renegotiate with the World Bank so that these people can achieve their goals and it will be a goal which will benefit the government as they will be the ones to now say we have empowered this number of people,” he added.