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FG pledges to assist one million SMEs with funding

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The federal government has said it will assist small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to get funding and grow their businesses.

This was disclosed by the director-general of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), Charles Odii on Wednesday.

He stated that SMEs constitute 96 per cent of firms in Nigeria, contribute about 50 per cent to the country’s GDP and employ about 60 million people.

“Government is the biggest spender and the biggest employer of labour. We want small businesses to benefit from contract awards. What that means, however, is that small businesses need to be well-equipped to be able to win government contracts,” said Mr Odii.

“Ninety-six per cent of businesses in Nigeria are small businesses, so only four per cent are big.”

The director-general assured that SMEDAN would help small business owners reduce the cost of production.

“A lot of banks want to give funding, but they can’t give it to small businesses because they are not adequately structured to receive it. We shall help at least one million entrepreneurs structure their businesses to become eligible for such funding,” Mr Odii explained.

He added, “There is an EU delegation that has funds for climate and renewable energy; we launched a desk immediately on renewable energy to start attracting the funds. The legislators will help advocate for the right policies for small businesses to thrive.”

The SMEDAN boss said the agency was also working to ensure that Nigerians at the grassroots became aware of and benefited from government provisions.

“We shall go into the nooks and crannies of Nigeria—into the inner recesses—to have this kind of dialogue to let people know. The government is doing a lot, but many times, people do not take advantage of the provisions,” Mr Odii stated.

“We are democratising access to information using social media and life engagements like town hall meetings.”

He added, “That is why we have legislators here. They will go with the message to their people, and that is how we will disseminate information to the grassroots.”

Some legislators at the meeting pledged their support for SMEDAN’s advocacy drive to grow SMEs.

Ishaya Lalu, representing the Mangu/Bokkos federal constituency in Plateau, said, “As parliamentarians, we shall support SMEDAN in terms of its budget. We appreciate President Bola Tinubu for appointing young people into strategic positions. The future of Nigeria is brighter now than before.”

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