Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has urged stakeholders in the public and private sectors to be innovative in order to consolidate on the gains recorded in improving small businesses.
Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, in a statement on Monday in Abuja, said the vice president spoke at the first virtual meeting of Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) stakeholders for the year, 2021.
The vice president said that in partnership with the private sector, the Federal Government would continue to support innovation and interventions to boost the growth of small businesses across the country.
According to him, the Federal Government is committed to improving the economy and creating more employment opportunities for Nigerians.
“We must continue to be innovative in the interventions that we plan for MSMEs; small businesses are the engines of growth of any economy in the areas of wealth creation and employment opportunities; MSMEs are very important.
“We really have to think out of the box in our engagements going forward.
“We need to change the way we do many things, we need to look for ways of multiplying our efforts, because the challenges in this space are greater than what we have been able to achieve so far.
“Of course, we have done a lot, but looking at the numbers in need, you will find out that there is a lot more to be done.”
On the implementation of the MSMEs Survival Fund and the impact on the economy, Osinbajo said that the fund had sent the right signals that MSMEs were an important component of the economy.
He commended the stakeholders for their cooperation and commitment in the implementation of schemes and initiatives in the MSMEs sector.
“Working together, we can achieve more in the MSMEs space.
“ I am glad to hear that there is more collaboration among partners and among Ministries, Departments and Agencies,” he said.
Earlier, Amb. Mariam Katagum, Minister of State, Industry, Trade and Investment, said the implementation of the Survival Fund across different areas lessened the burden of the pandemic on businesses.
“It has impacted over 300,000 beneficiaries under the Payroll Support Scheme, paying them N30,000 and N50,000 each as at December 2020; and successfully completing the enumeration and disbursement to 166,000 artisans as at December 2020.
“The Survival Fund, has filled the gap created as a result of the pandemic,” she said.
She said that the support provided through the Survival Fund would go a long way in cushioning the impact of the pandemic as observed in comments captured in the testimonies of beneficiaries of the various tracks under the scheme.
On his part, Amb. Adeyemi Dipeolu, Special Adviser on Economic Matters to the President, urged stakeholders to seriously consider the possibility of expanding the scope of the MSMEs clinics to cover more beneficiaries and consolidate past efforts.
He said that the clinics were limited to Nasarawa and Ebonyi states alone in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dipeolu said that the secretariat, in line with the directive of the vice president, would take the clinics to the remaining states of Benue, Imo, Lagos, Gombe, Adamawa and Jigawa.
He said that such was to ensure total coverage of the country and prepare the ground for a possible nationwide second round of the clinics.
“Other initiatives that require improvement in collaboration and scope of implementation include the Shared Facility Scheme which was launched in Benue and Lagos states respectively in 2020, with Anambra and Kaduna waiting in line to be inaugurated.
“The scheme has proven to be one of the key products of the MSMEs clinics that needs to be sustained and expanded,’’ he said.
More so, Mr Segun Awolowo, Executive Director, Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), spoke about the collaboration among agencies in the MSMEs space in actualising the objectives of the Federal Government.
He said the NEPC would leverage existing and renewed cooperation among agencies to actualise its new project aimed at supporting businesses in overcoming the COVID-19 disruptions
According to Awolowo, the new project is tagged “From pandemic to prosperity.”