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SMEs better Nigeria’s GDP by 50%, create 80% jobs

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The Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Ambassador Mariam Katagum has said small and medium enterprises (SMEs) contributed over 50 per cent to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and accounted for 80 per cent of employment in recent years.

She stressed that the sector had become engine of economic growth and development, job creation and exports besides aiding poverty and unemployment reduction across the federation. She spoke at the 27th National Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Clinic in Gombe State.

In a statement signed by the ministry’s Assistant Director, Information, Oluwakemi Ogunmakinwa, the minister added: “With the above figures in mind, it is, therefore, very clear that supporting small businesses by creating opportunities for SMEs to thrive is essential for increasing productivity, creating jobs and boosting our economy. That means making every effort to supporting them so that they can grow. This is why government is working with stakeholders across sectors to ensure that SMEs have the support they need to grow now and in the future.”

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She explained that government’s efforts were also geared at enhancing the competitiveness and quality of services rendered by SMEs aside positioning them to compete favourably with their counterparts globally.

Katagum pointed out that there is a compelling need for every state and council to identify areas of comparative advantage, particularly in agriculture and other resource endowments, and build competencies for food sufficiency and export, adding that “it is particularly more pressing, considering that trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) commenced on January 1, 2021.”

The minister reiterated the commitment of the Federal Government to the empowerment of Nigerians, especially in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To show seriousness, she said the Economic Sustainability Committee had announced specific programmes to cushion the adverse impacts of the virus on businesses.

Katagum, who doubles as chairperson of the scheme, enumerated the initiatives to include survival fund and guaranteed off-take programmes managed by a steering committee in the ministry.

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“These interventions, which have reached considerable implementation levels and received accolades and positive testimonies nationwide, have provisions for 45 per cent female-owned businesses, as well as five per cent for those with special needs and some key tracks that include payroll support, general MSME grant, artisan/transport grant and free business registration,” she added.

The minister further disclosed that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) had approved the revised National Policy on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) that spells resolution for foreseen challenges in the sector.

She added that her ministry had begun engaging stakeholders with a view to enriching the draft National Policy on Startups to keep pace with innovation and digital revolution in the ecosystems and reposition new businesses as major contributors to the GDP. The minister pleaded with stakeholders to make meaningful inputs for the economic well-being of the country.

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