MINISTER of Trade, Industry
and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu
Enelamah has launched a $160
million World Bank supported
initiative to improve access
to finance as well as provide
technical assistance to small and
medium enterprises in order to
boost job creation in the country.
The Minister who launched the
programme in Abuja recently also
set up an online vehicle known
as the Business Innovation and
Growth BIG platform to properly
execute the programme.
BIG is landmark initiative of
the Federal Ministry of Trade,
Industry and Investment, which
is funded by the World Bank
and represents the main channel
through which the Growth and
Employment GEM assistance is
expected to be made available
to micro small and medium
enterprises MSMEs in order to
stimulate economic activities in
critical non-oil sector areas.
The minister noted that the
initiative, which has a threeyear
implementation timeframe,
would among other things, help
to open up the nation’s economic
space to more players, particularly
small business operators.
He said, “One of the challenges
we have, which is well
documented, is our ranking in
the ease of doing business; it is
depressing to know that Nigeria
is ranked 169th of 189. And we
have told the World Bank what
exactly are the issues. So I am very
confident that as unsatisfactory as
it is, it is not going to be business
as usual. So we are going to see a
new Nigeria, you are going to see
us working together in the mirror
to see our country rise.”
Also speaking at the launch
in Abuja, World Bank Country
Director for Nigeria, Mr. Rachid
Benmessaoud, said that the
project would not only help
to complement the nation’s
industrialisation efforts, but also
assist the present administration’s
drive to boost Job creation.
He said, “The Growth and
Employment Project is a major
initiative aimed at stimulating
job creation through the growth
of specific, high potential, nonoil
sectors. It will make resources
available to help address some
of the key constraints identified
by business, with a particular
emphasis on MSMEs, which are
widely regarded as a vital engine
for growth and job creation.”
Benmessaoud further explained
that MSMEs operating under the
GEM sectors throughout the country
would be invited to register on the
BIG platform through its dedicated
website as part of modalities for
accessing the funds.
“They will apply and be screened
and if they meet the required
criteria, will be given access to
high quality training and capacity
building. If they pass through the
training phase successful, they
may become eligible to apply
for grants. Grants will be offered
through various grant windows
designed around the differing
needs of individual businesses,
consult is of businesses, and
investors”, he added

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