The Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mrs. Mariam Katagum, has called for accessible financing for the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) at single-digit interest rate.
The minister specifically tasked the financial sector to continue to support the federal government’s initiatives to boost affordable financing to small businesses by granting cheap credit to the MSMEs sector at single digit.
She made the call in her remarks at the virtual Ecobank MSME and Financial Inclusion Summit themed: “Unlocking Credit Growth in a Changing MSME Lending Landscape”.
Katagum, said as partners in progress, “I charge Ecobank Plc and the financial sector as a whole, to continue to provide the much-needed support for federal government initiatives by facilitating and granting accessible financing for the MSME sub-sector, at single digit. I repeat at single digit.”
While praising the organisers, she said the event came at a time when the present administration is strategically repositioning the MSMEs landscape towards achieving its full potentials with a view to contributing more to the economy.
The minister said small businesses remained the driving force behind structural changes and sustainable economic growth and development, particularly with respect to their contributions to job and wealth creation.
She added that these enterprises play a significant role in the economy and are crucial drivers of innovation and competition in many sectors.
Katagum said: “The federal government has overtime created platforms to improve access to finance for MSMEs in order to boost production, increase the value of trade, enhance the investment climate, and foster innovation and entrepreneurship.
“This is in addition to the deliberate and pragmatic policies geared towards supporting and sustaining small businesses in the country, thereby equipping entrepreneurs to compete globally, especially under the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA).”
She added that these initiatives also highlighted the importance of digital technology in promoting enterprises and sustainable industrialisation for economic growth.
Katagum further explained that in a bid to guarantee continuity in support of MSMEs in the country, the government had harnessed the prime policies of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) and the National Enterprise Development Programme (NEDEP) into the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP) in order to sustainably create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.
She added that these policies were aimed at boosting productivity levels of businesses, thereby accelerating the growth of the domestic market and creating profitable connections to regional, continental and global markets.
She listed other intervention programme designed to boost the MSMEs sector to include the recent approval for the revised National Policy on MSMEs, the planned floating of an MSME Micro Finance Bank by the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), and government’s emphasis on single digit interest credit facility for MSMEs.
She said: “Undoubtedly, the financial Sector plays a critical role in the development of these MSMEs, by providing credit facilities for start-ups and for business expansion.
“Under the MSME Survival Fund and the Guaranteed Off-take Schemes, the government earmarked N75 billion for the revival and sustainability of MSMEs which have been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“These schemes had, in the last few months, injected a large quantum of funds into the hands of the operators of MSMEs and their businesses and invariably reflated the economy”.