No less than 211 thousand businesses have emerged as beneficiaries of the federal government’s Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSME) survival fund since it was instituted following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This was revealed by Kamar Bakrin, technical adviser to the Minister for Industry, Trade & Investment who is a member of the initiative’s Steering Committee during a town hall meeting held with beneficiaries of the survival fund in Lagos on Tuesday.
Bakrin said the implementation of the survival fund was carried out in different groups which are the payroll support scheme, artisan and transport scheme, formalisation support scheme, general MSME grants scheme, and guaranteed offtake scheme, all of which recorded successes in various regions.
“For the South-West region, the Payroll Support Scheme had 88,808 beneficiaries, the MSME Grant Scheme recorded 14,449 beneficiaries, the Artisan and Transport Scheme had 63, 511 beneficiaries, the CAC Formalization Support Scheme had 42,113 beneficiaries while the Guaranteed Offtake Scheme recorded 3,081 beneficiaries,” he said.
Bakrin revealed that in Lagos State, the scheme recorded a total of 47,758 beneficiaries under the five tracks of implementation.
Giving a general report of how the fund performed so far, Bakrin said under the payroll support scheme which aimed to augment the payroll obligations of MSMEs in the health, production, education, hospitality, and food production sectors, 490,408 employees received between N30,000 to N50,000 as three months’ salaries in the 36 States and the FCT.
“398,260 businesses under the artisan and transport scheme received a one-off N30,000 while 250,000 businesses were registered under the CAC formalization support scheme, the general MSME grants scheme gave a one-off N50,000 grant to 82,491 businesses MSMEs,” he said.
Bakrin said some challenges were encountered during the implementation of the initiative like the lack of trust by the beneficiaries as it required obtaining their details including BVN, initial apathy by Nigerians on Government Intervention Programmes, heavy reliance on the use of Information Communication Technology, for transparency and traceability, which made the program susceptible to infiltration by internet scammers, among other issues.
“There were also instances of multiple applications using forged documentation, fake beneficiaries, and attempts to bribe officials to bypass the process, At the national level 19,928 MSMEs that were paid the initial mobilization of 30 percent for GOS failed to supply the items; thereby breaching the contract they signed with the Federal Government,” he said.
In her welcome remarks, Solape Hammond, special adviser, Sustainable Development Goals, (SDGs) and Investment, Lagos state said the COVID-19 pandemic caused disruptions in the economy, and MSMEs were hit hard which made the federal government establish the MSME Survival Fund to support micro and small businesses affected by the pandemic.
“The program is a noble one that aims to alleviate the impact of the pandemic as we needed to stimulate the economy to recover fast,” Hammond who was represented by Abosede George, permanent secretary, Lagos state office of SDGs and Investment said.
Juliet Ugwuoke, a hairdresser who is one of the beneficiaries in Lagos said she received N90 thousand which she used to boost and expand her business to include selling rather than waiting for customers that were not forthcoming.