1,500 small businesses to benefit from shared facility scheme

Cyril Okonkwo, Abuja


Over 1,500 micro, small and medium enterprises, MSMEs, are to benefit directly from the first phase of the Nigerian government’s shared facility scheme, which commences in the first quarter of next year.

The project will provide MSMEs with affordable shared access to essential amenities such as power, high quality operating equipment, broadband connectivity as government works to reduce the cost of operation of these small businesses across the country.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who stated this on Thursday night at the 2nd National MSME Awards held at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, said the scheme would be executed in partnership with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, the Bank of Industry, BOI, the Nigerian Export and Import Bank, NEXIM, and other private sector organizations.

Professor Osinbajo said that already two of the shared facilities have been established in Bauchi and Oyo states, explaining that the scheme would be extended to all states in Nigeria.

“Each of the 36 states and the FCT (Federal Capital Territory) will have a minimum of one shared facility, which will be located in identified clusters, where MSMEs already operate in significant numbers,” Osinbajo said.

According to him, the identified clusters included Ogbunike, Anambra State; Ikot Abasi, Akwa Ibom State; the Computer Village, Lagos State; Ukum, Benue State;  Wamakko, Sokoto State; Soba, Kaduna State; Egbe Eyewa, Ogun State and Arochukwu, Abia State.

Changing Orientation
Vice President Osinbajo said government’s efforts were geared towards changing the orientation of regulators to bring them in line with the Buhari administration’s policy of driving the growth of MSMEs in the country.

“We recognize that our future national prosperity will be consummated by the handshake between the business environment and talents and creativity.

“This is why we have been working hard on changing the orientation of our regulators even as we digitalize their operations. And there has been progress.

“Regulators are becoming more attuned to the notion that they are first facilitators before being the commercial police and standards enforcers.

“To get more MSMEs to formalize their businesses, the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC,offered a special 50 percent discount on business name registration for MSMEs, and recently extended the initial period of this offer by 90 days.

“Very recently, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, stayed action on a planned increment on tariffs of MSME related product registrations, as we strive to ensure that government requirements are in no way burdensome to our entrepreneurial economy.

“On access to low-cost financing for MSMEs, various government agencies and institutions are hard at work – Development Bank of Nigeria, DBN, Bank of Industry, BOI, Nigerian Export and Important, NEXIM, the new NIRSAL Microfinance Bank, and others.

“We are also working with commercial banks to see how we can quickly achieve single digit interest rates for loans to MSMEs, with tenor of between five to 10 years, and a repayment moratorium of a minimum of one year in each case.”

The vice president announced that the Bank of Industry,BOI, has signalled its commitment to this scheme by setting aside the MSME CLINICS / BOI FUND, which would be available to all MSMEs in Nigeria, regardless of whether they participated in the Clinics or not.

“And even as we expect that this new Fund will bring some immediate benefit  to MSMEs, we are not oblivious of the bigger challenge of rapidly scaling up the number of MSMEs that can access loans without bottlenecks,” Prof. Osinbajo said.

Star-Prize Winner
A young female entrepreneur, Ifeoluwa Olatayo, won the MSME of the Year, which is the star prize.

Olatayo, who left the medical school to set up her business, won a Hyundai saloon car and N2,000, 000.

The BOI Outstanding MSME Clinic Participant of the Year, male, was won by Aminu Uba Miko, while the female category was won by Owasanya Nora.

Each of them was given a Hyundai car and N1, 000,000.

Others who won prizes were won in the creative arts, leather work, beauty and wellness, manufacturing, technology innovations, among others.

Anambra State won the MSMEs Supportive State of the Year.