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How the Nigerian Government is Cushioning the Effects of COVID-19 on MSMEs

The negative impact of the coronavirus pandemic, particularly on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises has been overwhelming. According to research, over 90% of business owners agreed that they were adversely affected. Their cash flow, sales, revenue and salaries/wages took the biggest hit.
While a number of medium and small scale business owners are struggling to keep their heads above water, the resultant effect for the others is devastating. With fast depleted fund reserves, most businesses are forced to close. Employees are laid off, and business owners, disgruntled. Over 82.8 percent of businesses are likely to lay off one to five employees.

MSMEs play a pivotal role in Nigeria’s economic development. They are responsible for over 84 percent of job creation in the country. Therefore, a continuous decline in their sales and profit may trigger a major unemployment crisis in the country.
In order to mitigate such occurrence, the Federal Government introduced the MSME Survival Fund. It is a N75 billion conditional grant to support micro and small enterprises and safeguard jobs in the MSMEs sector. Launched in September, 2020, the Fund is a part of ₦2.3 Trillion stimulus package, known as the Nigerian Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP).

Read Also: SMEs report rise in demand as Nigeria PMI swings back to positive

The MSME Survival Fund Scheme has the following categories:
• Payroll Support: assist vulnerable MSMEs in meeting payroll obligations of between ₦30,000 – ₦50,000 per employee over 3 months.
• Artisans/Transport Workers Support: provide artisans and transport business operators with ₦30,000.
• Guaranteed Off-take Scheme: Bulk purchase of products from MSMEs to protect jobs and livelihood.
• General Grant: Support the survival of 100,000 MSMEs most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
• Formalization Support: Provide free CAC Business Name registration for 250,000 new businesses.

The program actively promotes gender inclusion – with 45% of the fund going to women-owned businesses.
Since the start of the program till date, the MSME Survival Fund has achieved the following results:
• Provided Payroll Support of between ₦30,000 – ₦50,000 for 3 months to 320,678 employees from 64,395 companies across 36 states and the FCT.
• Given one-time grant of ₦30,000 to 96,157 artisans and transport workers in 36 states and the FCT.
• Provided free business registration with CAC for 140,531 businesses across the country.
Several beneficiaries across the country are thankful to the government for providing this timely intervention.

Mrs Nwodo Uche, the CEO of Andertek Global Roofing Ventures in Lagos State had this to say: “When one of our staff received her first payment from the Payroll Support, she was so elated because we had not been able to pay salaries for some months. It was really a welcome relief for us as a business and for our employees. The payments our staff received for three months seriously helped to cushion the effects of the pandemic. Our gratitude goes to the Federal Government for remembering small businesses in these trying times.”

Mallam Usman Ibrahim who is into fruit production in Kano State shared his experience: “I heard about the Survival Fund from one of my friends. I had to ask one of my staff to help us apply online and upload all our documents. I had ten employees before but I had to downsize to five, due to the effects of COVID-19. When we received our first payment in November, all my staff were so happy. We continued to receive the payments in December and January. It has helped us so much. Sales has now picked up this year and we can now afford to pay our staff again. I am grateful to the government for helping us, just at the time we needed it.”

Mrs Victoria Jashi, the head of Goodnews School in Gombe State was effusive in her praise for the government’s timely intervention: “We really thank the Federal Government for their help. Schools were not open for a long time and it affected our ability to pay salaries. The Payroll Support allowed us to register 10 employees which is the maximum per organization, although we had a staff strength of 52 employees. Every month that we received the payroll support, we brought all the funds together and shared it among all the staff. We just wanted everyone to partake of the benefits.”

Ofui Blessing, a make-up artist in Delta State received the artisan grant of ₦30,000. She said “This money helped me to settle some debts I incurred during the lockdown because there was no business. Once we were able to move again, I used the remainder of the money to purchase some of my make-up materials and I have started doing my make-up again. I am so grateful for the timely help the government gave us.”

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