There is no gainsaying that to overcome the job crisis and tackle the economic challenges facing the country, there is the need to exponentially increase the number of job creators and this would entail more robust participation of the micro small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
MSMEs in any economy is the major hotbed for entrepreneurs. With an unemployment rate of over 33 per cent MSMEs in Nigeria have the capacity to absorb more than half of the unemployed, according to Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN).
However, funding and skill acquisition remain a challenge for most of them. This has over the years spurred several moves by the monetary authority in particular in an effort to ensure that MSMEs in the country have access to what they need to grow.
In recent times the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has disbursed over N426.3 billion through six of its intervention programmes targeted at micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the country.
About 801,540 beneficiaries have so far benefited from these schemes aimed at growing the Nigerian economy. According to the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, the apex bank has so far disbursed N83.9 billion to 216,705 beneficiaries through the micro, small and medium enterprises development fund (MSMEDF) which gives up to N50 million at nine per cent interest rate.
It also disbursed N111.7 billion to 548,345 beneficiaries through the Agri-business/ SMEs Investment Scheme (AGSMEIS) and another N253.4 billion to 29,026 beneficiaries through the N50 billion targeted credit facility.
Asides that, N3.1 billion had been disbursed to 341 beneficiaries through the creative industry financing initiative (CIFI) and another N2.04 billion given to 7,057 beneficiaries under the N75 billion Nigeria youth investment fund (NYIF).
To stimulate entrepreneurship among young Nigerians, he said the CBN has disbursed N173.4 million to 67 beneficiaries through the Youth Entrepreneurship Development Programme (YEDP)
The apex bank’s policies and programmes under Emefiele has been geared towards job creation and fostering inclusive growth through massive support to the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
Since the youth form the largest part of the population most of the interventions are geared towards them. One of such is the N75 billion NYIF which provide opportunities for the youths to engage in the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME), is a new inventiveness put in place by the government to create employment, alleviate poverty and increase the level of economic activities that will translate into economic growth and development in the coming days.
NYIF is a youth-focused programme in which each fund approval will range from N250, 000 to N50, 000,000, with a spread across group applications, individual applications, working capital loans set at three years, with a single-digit interest rate of five percent.
Given the plan and in the seeming elusiveness of white collar jobs, NYIF would introduce self employment in the mix while fast-tracking development and quench the thirst of many Nigerian youth willing to go into businesses of their choices in the next three years.
Asides this the apex bank tapped into the creative side of youths in the country with the creative industry financing initiative (CIFI). The fund supports businesses in the fashion, information, technology, movie production and distribution as well as music.
Under the CIFI, the CBN in partnership with the bankers committee will disburse loans at a nine per cent interest rate through Nigerian banks to creative businesses which satisfy the eligibility requirements. The CIFI loan has a flexible repayment period spanning three to 10 years.
The lLoans are available for Software Engineering students as well who can access up to N3 million while Movie Production businesses can get as much as N30 million. A maximum loan of N500 million is available for Movie Distribution businesses.
The CBN, through its Development Finance Department (DFD), also had undertaken several financial intervention initiatives over the years, covering some major strategic sectors of the economy.
These interventions include 37 development finance initiatives, across critical sectors of the economy namely; Agriculture, Aviation, Creatives, Export, Health, Information Technology, Manufacturing, MSMEs, and Power.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, the CBN introduced the Targeted Credit Facility (TCF) through NIRSAL Microfinance Bank. This is aimed at cushioning the impact of the pandemic on businesses and households. The TCF is a N50billion stimulus package designed to support households, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. To accommodate more beneficiaries, an additional N50 billion has been added making it a total of N100 billion.
Also notable is the Agric Small and Medium Enterprise Scheme (AGSMEIS) which was introduced in 2017 by the Bankers’ Committee in a bid to support and complement the Federal Government’s efforts at promoting Agri-businesses/Small and Medium Enterprises as a vehicle for sustainable economic development and employment generation. So far, this initiative has been impactful with testimonials from beneficiaries.
Commending the apex bank for ensuring transparency of the process, Executive Director, Development Finance Advocates (DFA), Mrs. Bolaji Oyekanmi said: “The CBN has clearly demonstrated that it is totally committed to funding developmental projects to drive economic growth in the country. It has been consistent in ensuring that these initiatives, not only succeed but achieve the set objectives of impacting the lives of individuals and businesses.”
Oyekanmi further stated, “it is quite reassuring for us, as we continue to monitor the implementation of these initiatives across board. We have been following developments as its concerns NIRSAL Microfinance Bank and other partnering banks under the supervision of the CBN in adhering to strict compliance governing the disbursement of the funds. The way and manner this has been done so far is worthy of commendation.”
She further stated that, in situations where infractions were reported, the CBN, has been effective in using the instrumentality of its mechanism, to swiftly investigate and resolve issues, thereby sustaining stakeholder’s confidence in the initiatives.