By James Emejo
The Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mrs.Maryam Katagum, Thursday unveiled the federal government’s Artisans Scheme to empower small businesses including tailors, cart pushers, barbers, plumbers among others with a grant of N30,000 each to help ameliorate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their livelihoods.
The intervention is within the framework the MSME Survival Fund and the Guaranteed offtake Initiative recently unveiled by the federal government as part of the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP).
She said:”President Muhammadu Buhari had insisted that we prioritise this scheme and ensure that it starts today, October 1st which is the 60th independence anniversary of our dear nation, Nigeria”
Speaking at the formal unveiling, the minister said the Buhari-led administration believed MSMEs represented important clusters that could help the country in terms of job creation and opportunities.
She said:”We believe that, if we as a government give every skilled artisan an enabling environment for his/her skills to be harnessed, then Nigeria will be better for it.”
Katagum said a special approval of 45 per cent for women and 5 per cent for special needs beneficiaries had been provided for across the schemes.
While urging trade associations and unions to take advantage and ownership of this scheme, she said, “It is absolutely free, do not pay anyone to benefit, your money is N30000 and it will go directly into your bank accounts, if you don’t have an account, now is the time to open one, you are not paying anyone back any money, it is federal government support to you for what COVID 19 has done to your businesses.”
She pointed out that the implementation of the scheme had been divided into three different groups or streams, stressing that Stream 1 will run between October 1 – 15, Stream 2 will take place from October 19 – 31 whil Stream 3 will commence in November 9 -21.
The minister said:”On the 1st of July 2020, the President approved the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP) to cushion the effect of COVID-19 on the economic activities and in the approval were two MSME schemes namely, Guaranteed Offtake and Survival Fund. The Artisans and Transport Scheme is one of those Schemes, others are the Payroll support, MSME grants and the Guaranteed offtake Schemes.
“What we have come to launch today is the artisans and transport scheme with your leadership and to explain to them how you can benefit as association and union members, however, we are only launching the artisans part of the scheme today, we will inform and engage the leadership of the transport sector and the public before we commence the transport scheme.”