In line with its promise to create jobs, eradicate poverty and grow the economy, the President Muhammadu Buhari administration through the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), is raising a new crop of entrepreneurs across the nation. Apart from a conditional grant from the government, free registration of business name, beneficiaries are exposed to a comprehensive knowledge of how to run a business successfully, reports Bamidele Famoofo
Currently, across the country, Nigerians, who are still in their active years, desirous to engage in productive economic activities are taking the opportunity offered by the federal government to acquire entrepreneurial skills backed with take a minimum take-off grant of N50,000 to make a difference in their chosen field of business.
The two-edged offer from government is a Conditional Grant Scheme (CGS) and entrepreneurship development training managed by the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN).
SMEDAN is an agency of the federal government, which has the mandate to stimulate, monitor and coordinate the development of the Medium, Small and Micro Enterprises (MSMEs) sub-sector. Initiating and articulating policy ideas for small and medium enterprises growth and development and promoting and facilitating development programmes, instruments and support services to accelerate the development and modernisation of MSME operations are other key duties of the agency among others.
“The project sponsored by the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) through SMEDAN is aimed at elevating or assisting micro businesses thus creating employment and eradicating poverty, ” Chief Operating Officer (COO), Kresto Paco Limited, a consulting/training firm handling the programme on behalf of SMEDAN in Lagos and Katsina States, Mr. Kehinde Ogundipe,” told THISDAY.
Ogundipe who noted that a total number of 1,710 participants are targeted beneficiaries in Lagos State alone, further revealed that the CGS training, which will hold concurrently in all the 22 Local Governments (LGs) in Lagos, will be done in clusters from the 13th to 26th of March,2019.
According to him, a similar training and conditional grant scheme programme have been organised by Kresto Paco in the North-west geographical region of the country, where the programme was formerly inaugurated with 3,060 beneficiaries receiving cash grants for various micro enterprises.
In all, a total of 145 local government areas in the country are expected to participate in the scheme with beneficiaries receiving total cash of N2 billion.
SMEDAN Director-General, Dr. Dikko Radda, who spoke at the inauguration of the programme in Daura, capital city of Katsina State, explained that the scheme was designed to promote activities of micro enterprises across the country in the areas of capacity building and delivery of post-intervention support services, such as access to finance, markets and workspace, among other aids.
According to him, in order to make sure that the objectives of the programme are achieved and its impact guaranteed, we have put in place a well structured business mentoring and monitoring mechanism.
“The justification for a special entrepreneurship and vocational development intervention for entrepreneurs at the bottom of the pyramid cannot be overemphasised, based on the need to graduate informal enterprises to the formal sector, industrialise the nation, develop the rural economy, stem youth restiveness and unemployment, and create the platform for sustainable economic growth and development in Nigeria.”
Breakdown of the six clusters in Lagos showed four local governments namely, Badagry, Ojo, Amuwo-Odofin and Ifako-Ijaye, to be in cluster one, produced 350 participants. Each of the local governments produced equal number of participants being 90 each.
Cluster two, which comprises of Alimosho, Oshodi and Mushin presented a total number of 270 participants with Alimosho presenting twice the number of participants the others presented.
Kosofe, Ikorodu, Ikeja and Lagos Mainland local governments, which formed cluster three with 360 participants are poised to receive support to either enhance existing businesses or create new ones. The others are cluster four, which has Epe, Ibeju Lekki, Apapa and Eti-Osa grouped and cluster four with 270 representatives as well as cluster five presenting 180 beneficiaries consisting of Lagos Island and Surulere while Agege, Somolu and Ajeromi/Ifelodun in cluster six, where the training will terminate are expected to present 270 participants.
Ogundipe, the COO of Kresto Paco, gave details of the training modules. According to him, the training will expose participants to business plan formulation, how participants can manage their business finance alongside legal and regulatory issues bordering on business.
“Trainees are also expected to acquire basic marketing and sales technique skills during the programme as well as how they can become their own boss,” he disclosed.
SMEDAN has reiterated the importance of developing the MSME sector in Nigeria with its findings that micro enterprises constitute close to 99.9 per cent of total enterprises in the country.
According to the agency, in terms of jobs creation, micro enterprises accounted for about 97 per cent of total number of persons employed in 2013. But, as at the same 2013, over 90 per cent of the micro enterprises are informal and populated by people at the bottom of the pyramid. “Hence, the need for the agency to conceptualise a flagship programme referred to as Conditional Grant Scheme for micro enterprises in Nigeria”, Dr. Radda stated.
According to Radda, the justification for a special entrepreneurship/vocational development intervention for the entrepreneurs at the bottom of the pyramid cannot be overemphasised based on the need to graduate informal enterprises to the formal sector, industralise the nation, develop the rural economy, stem youth restiveness and unemployment and create the platform for sustainable economic growth and development in Nigeria. “This present initiative (conditional grant scheme) looks to promoting the activities of micro enterprises across the country in the areas of capacity building and the delivery of post-intervention support services such as access to finance (conditional grants), markets, workspace, technology, among others”.
The Chairman SMEDAN Governing Board in Lagos State, Femi Pedro, a former deputy governor in the state, reiterated the agency’s commitment to develop and promote the MSME sub-sector of the economy.
He expressed hope that the CGS, if properly deployed and implemented to its full potential, had the capacity to create millions of jobs across the entire country.
He stated that Lagos state had a large concentration of MSME, assuring that the agency will do all in its power to formalise them so as to access funds from government and compete internationally. He appealed to beneficiaries of the grants to utilise it judiciously so as to enjoy more government patronage.
Besides Lagos and Katsina, other states that have benefitted from the CGS include Benue where 90 beneficiaries have emerged.
According to State Manager, SMEDAN, Mr. Oryiman Alu, 90 Benue indigenes have received N50,000 each from the scheme while Lagos is expected to double that amount going by the word of the Governor-elect, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who allegedly pledged to match the N50,000 offer from the federal government.