Last week, Bank of Industry, BoI put the loan approval for the development of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, MSMEs in Gombe State at N903.4 million, out of which 80 per cent will be specifically dedicated to agro-processing, our Business Correspondent LINUS OOTA writes on the efforts of BoI to boost Nigerian Economy.
Bank of Industry, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria and the Industrial Training Fund are the major drivers of the National Enterprise Development Programme, NEDEP that has been designed to create at least 3.5 million jobs across the country through the development of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise, MSME sector which is the engine of growth in most economies.
The scheme being spearheaded by the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment is aimed at harnessing the vast opportunities in the MSME sector to drive inclusive economic growth through skills acquisition, entrepreneurship training, business financing, employment generation as well as wealth creation.
Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment are promoting the establishment of SME Councils in all the thirty six states and the Ministry of Federal Capital Territory. The SME Councils are structured to comprise relevant state government officials, those of the organised private sector and representatives of SME promotion, development and facilitation agencies.
Speaking recently in Abuja, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Trade and Investment, Amb. Abdulkarem Musa, explained that the partnership between the Bank of Industry, SMEDAN and the ITF was the first of its kind in the country adding that he and his team were motivated by the belief that economic transformation and growth were only possible through focus on the MSME sector.
The world today has gone past the era of the lone-star performer onto the era of coalition building and strategic partnerships as both open and crowd sourcing are becoming major drivers of global commerce; meaning that business networks are increasingly becoming more cross border and more virtual in nature.
It is against this background that stakeholders have described the strong collaboration and interfaces in BoI, SMEDAN and such other institutions as the way forward.
BoI and SMEDAN have over the period, established a strong working strategic partnership – sharing ideas, valuable contacts etc. These have resulted in beneficial synergies that have linked Nigerian youths in the non-oil sector creating jobs and boosting the nation’s economy.
This initiative indeed, is a major step in the effort towards the diversification of the economy from the dependency on crude oil to other areas of self-sustaining. It is also clear evidence that the crucial nature of their respective mandates is not lost on them
It is based on the above scenario that the Bank of Industry, BoI recently put the loan approval for the development of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, MSMEs in Gombe State at N903.4 million, out of which 80 per cent will be specifically dedicated to agro-processing.
Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer of the bank, Rasheed Olaoluwa, who disclosed this during the commissioning of BoI’s new office in the state, said that so far, projects being financed through loans from the bank had created 1, 900 direct and indirect jobs in Gombe state.
He said: “Shortly after my assumption of duties in May, 2011, the Governor of Gombe State expressed the desire for partnership with BoI as a vehicle for accelerating the socio-economic development of the state. In order to actualise the partnership, he made a pledge to contribute the sum of N500.00 million towards the establishment of a N1.0 billion Entrepreneurial Development Fund, which was to be matched in like sum by BoI’’.
“The first tranche of the state’s contribution to the matching fund in the sum of N250.0 million was released in August 2011. This amount was equally matched by BoI thereby creating an initial pool of N500.0 million for on-lending to entrepreneurs in the state. By this gesture, Gombe State emerged as the first in the North East geopolitical zone to collaborate with the Bank of Industry in entrepreneurial development under the States’ Matching Fund Scheme.
“I am pleased to inform you that to date, a total sum of N903.4 million was approved for 171 projects. However, because the available matching fund was N500.0 million, only 55 per cent of the approved loan amount could be funded under the matching fund scheme. It is evident that there is an urgent need for the state government to release its outstanding contribution of N250.0 million to the matching fund’’.
He added: “Notwithstanding, BoI had disbursed N110.0 million to 16 enterprises in the state from its own resources. In terms of impact, 1,277 direct and 623 indirect jobs totalling 1900 were created. Gombe State is a predominantly agrarian state and this is evidenced by the fact that, 80 per cent of the approved loans was committed to agro-processing, while 20 per cent was for other sectors like beverages, construction products, plastic and chemical products, among others.”
The BoI boss noted that given the fact that Gombe State had been identified as a major hub for commodity-based industrial clusters within the North East, the bank would concentrate its lending efforts in major industrial clusters such as meat processing, metal fabrication rice milling and groundnut oil production, among others.
According to him, in a bid to deepen its developmental impact in the country, BoI has identified 34 product clusters nationwide, adding that Gombe, being a major hub for clusters in the North East of Nigeria, will be a beneficiary of the initiative.
Some of the identified clusters in the state, he said, include meat processing, metal fabrication rice milling, groundnut oil production, gum Arabic, dairy products, cotton and its entire value chain, gypsum and limestone.
Similarly, the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria, SMEDAN has called on the Federal Government to provide adequate intervention fund for the development of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.
The Director General of SMEDAN, Alhaji Bature Masari, made the call at a News Agency of Nigeria, NAN forum in Abuja.
“A huge amount of money is definitely needed for the millions of unemployed Nigerians, both graduates and the illiterates to be able to get employment in the MSME sector,’’ he said.
He said proper funding of MSMEs was the only avenue to tackle unemployment in the country.
Masari explained that with adequate funding, SMEDAN would achieve its objectives, especially now that the present administration had promised to tackle the issue of unemployment.
Our reporter gathered that the agency’s mandate, according to its enabling Act of 2003, includes initiation and articulation of policy ideas for micro, small and medium enterprises growth and development nationwide.
“`We are already working hard to see that MSMEs in Nigeria are properly positioned to provide effective service to Nigerians.
“Through MSMEs, the agency will be able to provide employment opportunities to ensure there is poverty reduction in the country.
“This will also ensure that crimes associated with unemployment and poverty is properly and drastically eradicated,’’ he said.
Masari said the agency was using the state and donor offices to identify Nigerians willing to go into enterprises creation and development.
“That is the only way to provide employment in Nigeria, because no government in the world has been able to provide employment for its teeming populace without employing the services of MSMEs.
“It is only in entrepreneurship that you have abundant employment opportunities, the millions of unemployed graduates in Nigeria and those who are illiterate and semi-illiterate, who are yearning for employment, have opportunities in the MSMEs sector.
“There are opportunities in Nigeria in every locality you go to in Nigeria; we have abundant opportunities, the agency has undertaken product identification in every local government area in Nigeria,” he said

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