• Wednesday, February 21, 2024
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100-Day Milestone: SMEDAN facilitates 15,000 jobs, over N7bn direct funding

SMEDAN unveils internship initiative to empower entrepreneurs

In his first 100 days as the Director General of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), Charles Odii has led impactful initiatives resulting in the creation of 15,000 jobs and the facilitation of over 7 billion naira in funding for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

Odii was appointed last year as the head of the agency by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu based on his extensive contributions to the MSME sector, including the design and execution of projects that highlight and facilitate support for small businesses in Nigeria and across the continent.

After his assumption in office on October 13, 2023, he introduced a seven-point prosperity agenda focusing on providing SMEs with access to finance, markets, capacity building, partnerships, a business-friendly environment, and streamlined processes for sustainable growth. Achieving key milestones in just three months, he implemented reforms at SMEDAN, incorporating digital and data-driven approaches to address challenges hindering SME growth to foster prosperity.

These accomplishments align with President Tinubu’s Renewed Hope agenda for inclusive economic growth and poverty eradication. Odii’s success distinguishes him as a key contributor to the administration’s goals, impacting grassroots communities and laying the foundation for rapid rural industrialization, a crucial solution to Nigeria’s economic challenges.

Some of the key achievements on Job Creation and Funding Initiatives includes: 5 Billion Naira Single-Digit Interest Loan with Sterling Bank, Under Charles Odii’s leadership, SMEDAN secured a groundbreaking agreement with Sterling Bank, unlocking a 5 billion Naira fund at single-digit interest rates to empower businesses. Over 200,000 applications have been received, and due diligence is underway for disbursement.

Matching Fund Agreement with Anambra and Enugu State Governments, Odii also Collaborated with Anambra and Enugu states government and injected 1 billion naira into MSMEs in each state under a matching fund agreement.

Flagoff of the Conditional Grant Scheme (CGS), Economic activities at the grassroots level were revitalized with a cash injection of N50,000 into nano businesses, creating jobs with the condition that they hire one more person.

Innovative Programs and Facilities, including the Launch of the Green Energy and Climate Change Desk to address environmental challenges impacting businesses, SMEDAN introduced the Climate Change Desk to support displaced businesses and promote the adoption of green energy solutions.

Commissioning of SMEDAN Head Office Equipped with Modern Work Hubs, A state-of-the-art office complex was commissioned, housing dedicated staff and featuring facilities such as a textile and garment hub for fashion businesses and a woodwork and furniture facility for aspiring artisans.

Launch of the SMEDAN Undergraduate Internship Program (SUIP), In commitment to early entrepreneurship readiness, to provide students with real-world business experience and resources to start, continue, and scale. Baze University served as the pilot ground, with more universities set to partner with the agency to execute the program.

Launch of the Women and Youth Desk, Recognizing the pivotal role of women in SMEs, a dedicated desk was launched to provide direct access to opportunities designed for women entrepreneurs.

Odii’s Policy and Collaboration Initiatives also includes the National Council on SMEs launched and Chaired by Vice President Senator Kashim Shettima where SMEDAN serves as the secretariat of the Council, uniquely positioning the agency to drive policy changes and facilitate inter-governmental collaboration for strategic SME investments.

Support Services for SMEs (MSME CLINIC), A weekly initiative connecting SMEs with resources and knowledge needed for growth. Entrepreneurs, regulators, and experienced SME development professionals collaborate to provide mentorship and solutions, creating a one-stop shop for SMEs.

Internal Culture Reform and Digital Transformation, A cultural reset within the agency aimed at fostering creativity and teamwork, accompanied by a digital transformation empowering staff with tools and training for greater productivity and progress tracking. The agency launched various social clubs to promote a healthy lifestyle, enhance productivity and focus, and instill a sense of shared mission.

Continuing its data-driven approach for impact, the agency is set to commence a nationwide small business census to create a credible and comprehensive database of SMEs in the country and enhance the quality of its interventions.