Government to disburse N220bn MSME fund for Nigerian entrepreneurs

gejThe Punch newspaper reports that, barring any last minute change, President Goodluck Jonathan will today (Tuesday) commence the disbursement of the N220bn Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund.

The Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, disclosed this on Monday in Abuja, while speaking at the 8th annual MSME finance conference.

The conference with theme, ‘MSME financing in Nigeria: Past, present and future’, was conceptualised to look at the MSME finance sub-sector from a holistic perspective.

Sixty per cent of the fund has been earmarked for providing financial services to women in order to address their peculiar financial exclusion circumstances.

According to the guidelines of the fund, each state of the federation will be able to access the sum of N2bn, which will be administered to beneficiaries at an interest rate of nine per cent.

Already, the central bank has signed Memoranda of Understanding with the governors of Delta, Akwa Ibom, Osun, Oyo, Bayelsa, Gombe, Zamfara, Enugu, Ondo and Benue states to access the fund.

Two per cent of the fund will also be made available for economically active physically challenged entrepreneurs.

Speaking at the event, Emefiele said since the economy in recent times had been driven by growth in the non-oil sector, there was a need to provide affordable and efficient financial services for the MSMEs.

He said, “In the last seven years, our economy has expanded by seven per cent; and in the first quarter of 2014, the real Gross Domestic Product grew by 6.2 per cent, mainly driven by an 8.2 per cent growth in the non-oil sector.

“However, sustaining the developmental strides with inclusive growth will depend largely on the provision of affordable and efficient financial services for the MSMEs, particularly the micro enterprises, which account for about 90 per cent of the MSMEs in Nigeria.

“It is imperative that this segment of the financial system be strengthened in order to forestall the social adverse consequences of financial exclusion.”

Emefiele said access to finance had a multiplier effect on the economy as it would have the much needed catalytic effect on job creation and poverty reduction.

He added, “It is in realisation of this fact that the central bank launched the N220bn MSME fund to provide financial resources to entrepreneurs across the country through the participating financial institutions.

“I am, therefore, very pleased that Mr. President has agreed to start the disbursement of this fund tomorrow (Tuesday).”

Emefiele said this year’s conference would help to consolidate efforts towards the empowerment of entrepreneurs, while formulating policies that would help to address the challenges of that sector of the economy.

The governor said the central bank had put in place modalities that would help ensure that only qualified small business owners would benefit from the fund.

He said, “This is not a grant or sharing of money; this is an opportunity or avenue for what we call micro and small-scale enterprises to access finance. The intension here is to make it possible for you to access finance and 60 per cent of the fund will be going to women as addressed in the guidelines released.

“Fifty per cent will go to the SMEs; 9.75 per cent of the money will be used for capacity building to build capacity for understanding business and understanding how you can be an entrepreneur, and being able to say ‘I own a business’.”

He warned that those compiling fake names and mobile numbers to access the fund would not succeed, adding that the biometrics of beneficiaries would be taken.

Emefiele noted that names of defaulters would be put in the data base and no institution would lend money to such individuals.

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