Vice President Yemi Osinbajo announced yesterday that the federal government was planning to make available concessionary funding initiatives to assist micro, small and medium scale enterprises to help them overcome the problem of non-access to low cost financing.
He said government was determined to engage more with small and medium scale entrepreneurs (SMEs) in Nigeria towards ensuring sustainable economic development and wealth creation in the country.
“SMEs are grossly under-served in terms of low cost financing. There are several reasons why this may be so. These include how to deal with the sheer scale of numbers of SMEs that need to access concessionary funds in order to make an appreciable impact”, Osinbajo stated.
The vice president spoke in Abuja at a SME financing conference convened by the Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce, Kaduna State Chapter, and the Economic Affairs Section of the United States Embassy, with the theme, ’Bridging the Nigerian SME Funding Gap.’
He gave the assurance that by working through cooperatives and trade organizations, credit facilities can reach large numbers of people.
Osinbajo said the importance of financing SMEs had never been lost on government, save for lack of access to affordable loans.
He noted that several deliberate and sustained financial initiatives had been put in place by the Central Bank of Nigeria except that SMEs still remain grossly under-served.
He listed cooperatives, market women, trade groups, artisans and start-up companies as veritable partners who are being engaged towards the creation of wealth with overall goal of boosting job creation and ultimately economic growth and development.
Earlier, the US Assistant Secretary of State, Economic and Business Affairs, Ambassador Charles Rivkin had said whenever it was good for SMEs in any country, it was good for everybody.
According to him, with the huge population potential of Nigeria, SMEs would be the key driver of the economy if adequate and easy-to-access funds are allocated to the sector.
Niger State governor, Abubakar Bello, who was at the event, described the conference as timely as it had inherent possibilities of building capacity for SMEs as well as the private sector towards improving accessibility to low-interest funding for the sector.