FG launches N75bn SMEs COVID-19 stimulus schemes

The Nigerian government Thursday kicked off two programmes to support around 1.7 million Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) across the country with N75 billion.

Mariam Katagum, Minister of State for Trade and Investment, said at a briefing to kick off the National MSME Survival Fund and the Guaranteed Off-take Stimulus Schemes under the Nigerian Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) that the programmes would transform businesses positively.

The ESP received the endorsement of the Federal Executive Council on 24th June after its initiation by the Economic Sustainability Committee that was inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari on 30th March.

Katagum said government was ready to begin the implementation of the two initiatives around the country in its commitment to navigate the choppy waters of the coronavirus crisis.

She noted that the N60bn MSME Survival Fund and the Payroll Support schemes would come first to be followed by the N15bn Guarantee Off-take Scheme.

“Both schemes are at the core of the N2.3tn stimulus package, also known as the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan being implemented to help cushion the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is with a view to boosting the economy by saving existing jobs and creating new job opportunities.”

A committee of ten with the minister as the chair was inaugurated in August, drawing membership from both the private and public sectors including the vice-chairperson, Ibukun Awosika, who is the chairman of First Bank of Nigeria Limited.

“The survival fund scheme is expected to commence immediately while the Guaranteed Off-take Scheme will follow as soon as the proper modalities are put in place to meet current realities.

“The two schemes are targeted to impact about 1.7 million entities and individual beneficiaries across the country,” Katagum added.

The survival fund, according to the Special Assistant to the President on MSMEs in the Office of the Vice President, Tola Johnson, is a conditional grant aimed at supporting vulnerable MSMEs in meeting their payroll obligations and protecting jobs from the headwind of the pandemic.

According to Johnson, the scheme would safeguard 1.3 million job losses and targets 35,000 persons per state.

Both schemes are expected to offer grants to beneficiaries ranging from N30,000 to N50,000 depending on the category.

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