The federal government has officially flagged off the N60 billion Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Survival Fund and Payroll Support Scheme.
During the official flag-off held in Abuja on Thursday, the Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Ambassador Mariam Katagum, said the two schemes were part of the government’s N2.3 trillion Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP).
Ambassador Katagum said the N15bn SMEs Guaranteed Off-take Scheme, which is still being fine-tuned, would take off soon.
The minister said the MSME Survival Fund, which has kicked off, was designed to cushion the effect of COVID-19 on vulnerable SMEs.
She said the MSMEs Guaranteed Off-take Scheme, is being designed to assist MSMEs impacted by COVID-19 through guaranteed off-take of products.
Senior Assistant to the Vice President on MSMEs Tola Johnson said the scheme would start with the Payroll Support targeting 100,000 businesses and 500,000 beneficiaries for salaries ranging from N30,000 to N50,000.
Johnson said about 333,000 artisans and transport operators would get N30,000 grants to support them to reduce the effects of income loss.
The SA said the fund would also be used to support 250,000 new businesses to formalise their business with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).
The Director-General of Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (SMEDAN), Dr Dikko Umaru Radda, who thanked President Muhammadu Buhari on behalf of the MSMEs for the fund, said the Survival Fund was a welcome development to reduce the effect of COVID-19 on MSMEs.
The representative of the Organised Private Sector, who is also a Board of Trustees Member of the National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME), Ubadigbo Okonkwo, said the survival fund was a timely stimulus package for MSMEs in Nigeria.
However, he expressed concern about the short duration and small size of the schemes and urged the federal government to implement follow-up MSME support programmes at the planned expiry of the two schemes.