President Goodluck Jonathan is expected to inaugurate the disbursement of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN’s) N220 billion Fund for Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) today.
The fund is aimed at providing support for the development of the real sector of the economy. Of the total fund, about 60 per cent or N132 billion would be set aside for women-owed enterprises.
CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele who made the announcement yesterday at the opening of the 8th MSME finance conference in Abuja noted that sustaining the country's developmental strides with a balanced and inclusive economic growth would largely depend on the provision of affordable and efficient financial services to the MSMEs, particularly the micro entrepreneurs that account for more than 90 per cent of the businesses in the country.
He said:"It is imperative that this segment of the financial system be strengthened in order to forestall the inevitable adverse socio-economic consequences of financial exclusion."
He said the special intervention to the MSMEs sector became necessary in view of the indisputable linkage between finance and economic development as access to finance has a significant multiplier effect on the economy because of its catalytic effect on job creation and poverty reduction.
He said this year’s conference would consolidate efforts towards the empowerment of entrepreneurs in the sub-sector while formulating policies and strategies to address potential challenges.
He disclosed that one of the important innovations in this year’s programme was the introduction of the Entrepreneurship Clinic, where aspiring young entrepreneurs would be provided the requisite tool kits to start and grow their businesses.
The CBN boss added that to this effect, about 60 enterprising graduates were specifically invited to the programme to be trained and mentored on how to identify business opportunities and source finance.
He said:"All the young entrepreneurs participating at the session will be monitored with respect to the progress and achievements recorded before the next conference.
“In view of the limited amount of funds we have committed to this venture, we are looking at the private sector to collaborate with the CBN to improve access to finance."
Meanwhile, the conference would also hope to resolve the lingering controversies in the operations of microfinance banks as well as exploring alternative forms of collaterals for small businesses in order to ease access to finance.