The initiative to dedicate a full week to the intensive promotion of MSMEs in the country and highlight their needs is meant to further boost the potentials and achievements in the sector, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.
Prof. Osinbajo stated this on Thursday in remarks delivered on his behalf by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investments, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, at the opening ceremony of the maiden edition of the National MSME Discourse.
Aside the priority it has given to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in various ways including through the holding of MSME Clinics across the country over the years, the Buhari Administration dedicates this week to further build the profile of MSMEs and promote greater understanding of the sector.
Earlier this week the VP visited some MSMEs in Abuja and would be headlining the Annual MSMEs Awards on Sunday, among other events lined up for the week-long commemoration.
According to the Vice President, “given the priority it attaches to the MSME sector over the years, the Buhari Administration has supported MSMEs in various ways including through the MSME Clinics Initiative which is conducted through a partnership of relevant MDAs.
“The MSME Week is the latest initiative in this regard. Over the past few years, we have held a national MSME day in tandem with World MSME Day as declared by the United Nations. However, in order to further build the profile of MSMEs and promote understanding of the sector, we decided to dedicate the whole of this week to promoting awareness about the achievements of our MSMEs and highlighting their needs.”
Speaking on his participation in the week’s activities and other programmes scheduled to mark the occasion, Prof. Osinbajo said “two days ago as part of activities lined up during the week, I visited DLK Signature Limited which produces footwears, bags, and clothing, and also operates like a privately run shared facility. I also visited Roving Heights, an up and coming independent bookshop that combines a physical presence with an online presence.
“I was impressed by the vision, work ethos and organizational acumen of these outfits but my purpose was to encourage them and all other businesses in the MSME space and signal that the Federal Government is committed to supporting their efforts every step of the way.
“Other activities lined up for the MSME Week include an MSME Clinic in one of the States, this MSME National Discourse, a Fashion and Art Exhibition and National MSME Awards night.”
Recalling the Federal Government’s interventions in the sector, the Vice President said, the Clinics so far have been held in 27 States and the initiative has extended to encouraging States to establish one-stop shops and ‘Shared Facilities’.
Continuing, he said, “the Buhari administration has also introduced a number of other schemes and initiatives aimed at supporting the operations of MSMEs.
“We have introduced arrangements in our development finance institutions to de-risk lending to MSMEs. Similarly, we have exempted small businesses with a turnover of less than N20m from tax, while those with a turnover of less than N100m now benefit from a one-third reduction in the corporate income tax rate from 30% to 20%.
“Also equally notable is the support that the Federal Government extended to small businesses in the particular context of COVID-19 through the Economic Sustainability Plan. Through the Payroll Support Programme, we were able to help businesses across various sectors to keep their employees.
“In the same vein, artisans and transporters got support from the Survival Fund to help overcome the negative impact of the pandemic on their livelihoods. In a similar vein are the MSME specific interventions in other ESP programmes like the Agriculture for Food and Jobs programme, the Family Homes Fund programme and the Solar Power Naija programme.”
“Taking the Family Homes Fund for instance, construction contracts with guaranteed off-take will be given to consortiums of young professionals in the building sector such as architects, engineers, quantity surveyors, builders, etc,” the VP added.
Commending the National MSMEs Secretariat for the initiative to hold a National Discourse on MSMEs, Prof. Osinbajo noted that the theme of the discourse – Little Beginnings: Huge Impact- is apt.
He said the theme “clearly underlines the potentials of the MSME sector. It inspires hope, signals growth, and anticipates success. Moreover, it provides an important platform for stakeholders in the economy (particularly as it relates to the MSME sub-sector) to review, assess, take stock, and proffer solutions to challenges facing micro, small and medium scale businesses in the country.”
He urged participants to give further insights and throw more light on salient issues affecting small businesses, noting that “it would be helpful to gain further insight into programmes that financial institutions have for MSMEs as well as suggestions on how to overcome the constant complaint by small businesses about the costs that they face in doing business.”
Other dignitaries at the event included the Minister of State Industry, Trade and Investment, Ambassador Mariam Katagum; the Managing Director of the Bank of Industry, Mr Kayode Pitan; the Executive Director of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Mr Segun Awolowo; the Director-General of the Industrial Training Fund (ITF), Sir Joseph Ari; the Managing Director of Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN), Mr Tony Okpanachi, and representatives of Access Bank, NEXIM Bank, FIRS, NAFDAC, SMEDAN, SON, among others.