By Francis Ogwo
The sum of 27 billion naira has been disbursed by the Federal Government to Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) as part of the MSMEs Survival Fund Scheme.
This is coming with an announcement of plans for the last disbursement of the last two schemes that make up the MSMEs Survival Fund namely, the Guaranteed Offtake Stimulus Scheme and the General MSMES Grant.
The Minister of State, Industry, Trade and Investment, Ambassador Mariam Katagum, who is also the Chairperson, Steering Committee, MSME Survival Fund and Guaranteed Off-Take Schemes (GOS), made this disclosure in a chat with the media on Thursday.
Katagum said the Steering Committee for the Survival Fund would submit its reports to the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning as well as await the second tranche of the fund and that the existing schemes were progressing without hitches.
The Minister said: “The Federal Government is set to roll out the last two schemes of the MSMEs Survival Fund component of the National Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP) namely, the Guaranteed Offtake Scheme (GOS) and the General MSMEs Grant.
“Two of the components approved under the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) are the MSMEs Survival Fund and Guaranteed Off-take Scheme.
“The Steering Committee approved the implementation of the 2 Schemes in 5 distinct parts namely; the Payroll Support Scheme, Artisan and Transport Scheme, Formalization Support Scheme, General MSMEs Grant and the Guaranteed Offtake Scheme.
“Under these two components, the portal will open from 11:59 pm on Tuesday, 9th February 2021 to Thursday 18th February 2021 for the Guaranteed Off take Scheme (GOS) and General MSME Grant Applications. All interested MSMEs can go directly to the Portal and register for either of the Schemes free of charge.”
The Minister was of the view that the aim of GOS is to stimulate direct local production by enabling 100,000 MSMEs in the production sector with funds to produce post-Covid lockdown stimulus products.
She added that the scheme would give preference to products produced in reasonably sufficient volumes in each state of the Federation, Katagum said that the product must be able to create jobs and have a multiplier effect on the surrounding economy.
She listed some of the products of interest to the Federal Government to include: face masks, hand sanitiser, liquid soap, disinfectant and processed foods.
Also lending his voice was the Special Assistant to the President of MSMEs in the office of the Vice President, Mr Tola Johnson, who disclosed that a total of 100,000 businesses across the 36 states and FCT would benefit from the new schemes.
Johnson added that the portal for the GOS would be opened for two weeks while the portal for the grant would be opened for a week.
He listed some of the conditions to qualify to participate in the scheme to include; businesses must be registered in the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), must be owned by a Nigerian and must have a minimum of two staff and that the disbursement would be on a first-come-first-served basis.
Recall that in September, 2020, the N60 billion MSME Survival Fund and the N15 billion Guaranteed Offtake Scheme, which is the core of the N2.3 trillion stimulus package of the Nigerian Economic Sustainability Plan, was flagged off on September 21, 2021.
The two MSMEs initiatives were introduced by the Federal Government as part of its efforts to support businesses overcome challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The MSMEs Survival Fund scheme is a conditional grant to support vulnerable micro and small enterprises in meeting their payroll obligations and safeguard jobs in the MSMEs sector.
About 35,000 individuals per state are expected to benefit from the scheme with about 1.3 million jobs saved across the country.