The Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria has earmarked N103.5m as grants for 2,070 small-scale business owners in Sokoto State.
The Director-General of SMEDAN, Dr Dikko Umar-Radda, disclosed this on Monday in Sokoto at the launch of the Conditional Grant Scheme for beneficiaries in 23 local government areas of the state.
He said 90 people were selected in each of the local government areas, adding that SMEDAN would train the beneficiaries, facilitate their business registration and disburse the funds directly into their bank accounts.
Umar-Radda said a survey conducted recently revealed that 37 million Micro Small and Medium Enterprises engaged 59.7 million people, and represented 96 per cent of business activities in the county.
He said that the figure of those employed represented 84.2 per cent of the country’s labour force, contributing 7.27 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product.
According to him, 90 per cent of the micro enterprises are informal and populated by people at the bottom of the pyramid, hence the introduction of CGS for micro enterprises in the country.
He said the process would enable the enterprises to become part of the formal sector, industrialise the nation, develop the rural economy, stem youth restiveness and unemployment as well as create sustainable economic growth and development.
The SMEDAN DG said the present move would target capacity building and post-intervention support services such as access to finance, markets, workspace and technology.
He recalled that the scheme was first introduced in 2017 in 145 Local Government Areas of Katsina, Gombe, Ebonyi, Oyo, Akwa Ibom and Benue states.
According to him, 13,000 enterprises in those areas benefited from entrepreneurship training, registration of businesses, provision of insurance and access to finance through a grant of N50,000.
Umar-Radda said the agency had decided to extend the scheme to Lagos, Bauchi and Sokoto states, targeting 6,000 beneficiaries, to encourage job creation, business formalisation, improved productivity and capacity enhancement of the operators.
He said that SMEDAN would work in partnership with banks, the Federal Inland Revenue Service, business development service providers, state and local governments, insurance companies and the Corporate Affairs Commission.
The DG also said that the Federal Government was fully committed to its ‘One LG One Product’ support initiative in each of the 109 senatorial districts in the country to encourage small-scale entrepreneurship development.
He said women cooperative societies were selected in Goronyo, Shagari and Illela local government areas of Sokoto State, processing groundnut, rice and cassava products.
Umar-Radda further said that transparent strategies were adopted in the selection of the beneficiaries.
The Minister of State, Commerce, Trade and Investment, Hajia A’isha Abubakar, said the CGS initiative would stimulate the generation of revenue in the state.
Abubakar urged the beneficiaries to make judicious use of the funds to be granted to them towards industrial development of the state.
She commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the efforts, noting that it was part of the agenda to diversify the economy from oil for efficient productivity in the nation.