Home Business FG collaborates with Access Bank to empower 4m MSMEs, create 384,000 jobs

FG collaborates with Access Bank to empower 4m MSMEs, create 384,000 jobs

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The federal government has entered into a new partnership with Access Bank to guarantee access to funds for Medium, Small and Micro Enterprises (MSMEs) across Nigeria through an SME focused initiative tagged “YouThrive by Access”. The aim is to facilitate job creation to cut Nigeria’s high unemployment rate.

Head of non-financial services, emerging businesses at Access Bank, Chioma Ogwo said participating small businesses would be empowered in different ways, including building their capacity and giving them access to affordable finance, besides providing them with the digital, technical and skill acquisition training to thrive and create wealth.

The senior special assistant to President Bola Tinubu on job creation and MSMEs, Mr Temitola Adekunle-Johnson said the move is part of government’s resolve to create 380,000 jobs within four years of the administration.

“The plan is to create 384,000 jobs in four years. We will create these jobs for everyone to see. We will show you where the jobs are. You will hold us accountable”, Adekunle-Johnson said yesterday at the ‘Inaugural Job Creation and MSME Quarterly Communications Forum’ in Abuja.

Ogwo said Access Bank has earmarked N50 billion for the intervention programme. She said participants would access the loans at 15 per cent interest rate, while free grants would also be given to deserving SMEs who have distinguished themselves.

“We are looking at empowering 4 million in four years – one million yearly. 700,000 would be given access to finance every year, 300, we will train”, Ogwo said, adding that “We have a business exchange programme for the beneficiaries that would enable the SMEs to go and exchange ideas with their counterparts in other countries. We will then learn the best from the best and come back to replicate it in Nigeria”.

This was as the minister of communications, innovation and digital economy, Olatunbosun Tijani said for the government to tame the nation’s economic challenges, “we must prioritise support for small businesses”.

He urged the authorities to empower technology-inclined youths to deploy technology and innovation to boost productivity in the MSMEs sector. He said Nigeria has an advantage of being a net exporter of technology through a technologically inclined workforce.

Adekunle-Johnson said government is determined to guarantee seamless and easy access to funding for SMEs through a process where SMEs would apply for a loan and get it approved within 14 days and not in six months, acknowledging that some businesses could fold up within six months period of waiting for loan approval.

He said the endpoint is to achieve a single-digit loan for MSMEs. “Our aim is to ensure single digit loan becomes the norm for MSMEs”.

He disclosed that disbursements will be quick after the loan assessment is processed to help reduce the bottlenecks often faced by MSMEs to secure funding for their businesses.

Meanwhile, the director-general of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) Charles Odii has disclosed that 3 million jobs were lost to flooding in Nigeria in 2023. He did not give details on specific figures about the flooding that wreaked havoc on lives and properties.

He said the government has developed a technology to alert of an impending danger of flooding across the states, a development he said would help government to take proactive measures to evict potential victims.

He said SMEDAN is helping to mitigate the challenges faced by MSMEs, especially production cost and low rent to enable them to be productive and support the economy.

On his part, the deputy chief of staff to President Tinubu, Senator Ibrahim Hadejia said MSMEs provide resilience and agility to any economy, adding that a nation with a robust MSME sector, would have its economy better and able to adapt to some of the current global shocks.

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