Small and Medium businesses play a sensitive role in ensuring economic growth and youth empowerment in any society.
They are also important as they provide training for unskilled and semi-skilled labour while they are less capital intensive. That is why in most nations, small and medium businesses are provided support to ensure they are sustainable and virile.
According to the eighth and the ninth goals of the Sustainable Development Goals which is to promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all and to build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation every nation ought to invest in this area.
The National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, says there are about 41.5 million Small and Medium Scale businesses in Nigeria. These small businesses consist Agricultural value chain activities, Cottage Industries, Artisans, small Services, Renewable energy/energy efficient product and technologies, Trade and general commerce and Other economic activity as may be prescribed by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.
This indeed prompted the need for the Present Administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to reposition the sector.
In a recent interview with the Special Assistant to the President on Small and Medium Businesses, and a member of the Federal Government recently inaugurated 22-member council for Nigeria’s MSMEs, Mr Tola Johnson, several interventions have been made especially with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to him some of them are the reopening of at least six industrial development parks in the country, one for every region to provide a perfect environment for small businesses to be re-invigorated.
Also the allocation of 50 billion Naira intervention fund through the Central Bank of Nigeria to be disbursed to households and small and Medium Businesses especially with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic was also made available by the Federal Government.
So far disbursement has commenced with a wide range of businesses benefitting.
Under the administration, there was the development of the Small and Micro Enterprises Clinic and Awards where at least 390,000 businesses have so far benefitted.
The project brings together relevant Federal Government business regulatory agencies such as the National Agency for Food Administration and Control, NAFDAC, Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, Standards Organization of Nigeria, SON and others to a series of business forums organised in different cities across the country where MSMEs can easily interact with them and sort their challenges and barriers.
The target of the award is to celebrate excellence in various sectors of the economy such as manufacturing, agriculture, furniture and woodwork, technology innovation and fashion just to mention a few. Already the MSME clinic has gone to 26 states and has impacted many of such businesses.
Also of priority for the administration is the repositioning of government financial institutions and programmes that would provide support for Small Businesses such as the Development Bank of Nigeria, DBN, Nigerian Bank for Commerce and Industry, NBCI, the Small and Medium Industries and Equity Investment Scheme, SMIEIS, Nigerian Agricultural, Cooperative and Rural Development Bank, NACRDB.
It is undeniable that the Buhari administration is determined to empower the largest demography and human resource of the country which is the youth through several interventions which have already began impacting lives and the nation’s economy.
ADEMOLA ADEBIYI, A SOCIAL COMMENTATOR