The federal government has unlocked N3 billion, through the National Enterprise Development Programme (NEDEP), for micro enterprises across all the states of the federation from January to September 2013.
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga, said the direct micro-enterprise funding further demonstrated the commitment of the current administration to developing enterprises at the grassroots, in order to create jobs, enhance growth and ultimately reduce poverty.
Aganga spoke through his Senior Special Assistant on Corporate Communications, Mrs. Yemi Kolapo, who received the ‘Star Ambassador of Nigerian Women Business Journalists’ award on the sidelines of the World Bank/International Monetary Fund meetings, in Washington, DC, United States.
He said NEDEP provided the necessary platform for the sustainable ongoing funding of the micro-enterprises, adding that the programme, through the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN)’s business development training, also ensured the financial readiness of the micro enterprises and, thus, their ability to repay the disbursed loans.
Micro enterprises are businesses with less than 10 employees and or less than N5 million in assets (excluding land and buildings). They currently represent 99.87 per cent of Nigeria's MSME population.
According to the minister, NEDEP is an initiative spearheaded by the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment and its three parastatals – the Bank of Industry, SMEDAN and the Industrial Training Fund (ITF). Businesses can benefit from the opportunities the programme provides by getting in touch with any of the three agencies.
He said, “The federal government is deepening its interventions at the grassroots by implementing new initiatives in each State and local government of the federation. Over the last 3 months SMEDAN (the government agency responsible for developing the MSME sector) has expanded its operational footprint, and the agency is now present in every state of the federation, a remarkable feat within such a short period. This will enable it to provide the necessary support, in an efficient manner, in the different states.
“Nigeria has over 17 million MSMEs, according to the survey carried out by SMEDAN, in collaboration with the National Bureau of Statistics, and employs over 32 million people in Nigeria. Most Nigerians are employed in this sector and future job growth in Nigeria, like in most developed countries, is expected to come from this sector. SMEDAN’s new decentralised operating model will fast-track the One Local Government One Product Programme, which will ensure that each of the 774 local governments in Nigeria develops sectors based on their areas of comparative advantage.”
Aganga also pointed out that the Industrial Training Fund, an agency under the supervision his ministry, had just completed the training of 14,000 youths within the second Phase of its National Industrial Skills and Development Programme.
He said the completion of the second phase of the youth training brought the total number of youths trained under the programme to 24,000 youths in 23 States plus the Federal Capital Territory, over the last eight months.
He stated, “ITF has also commenced the third phase of the programme in 13 States, which covers the rest of the country. The needs in each local government are different because the comparative advantages are not the same. The skills developments have covered areas like welding, construction, food processing, quarrying, agriculture and aquaculture, electrical\electronics, light manufacturing and many more. Each training programme lasts for three months to develop basic or intermediate proficiency.
“However, the most important thing now is that our focus is on ‘Train-to-Work’. As the youths are trained, they are linked directly with the requisite jobs. This is the only way to make the right impact.”