1.2 million Nigerians have been named beneficiaries of Federal government’s N66 billion grant under its micro small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) survival fund and guarantee off-take scheme.
Mariam Katagum, minister of state for industry, trade and investment, said this on Tuesday at a town hall meeting with beneficiaries of the scheme in Abuja.
Katagum said the programme under the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP) has disbursed N66 billion directly to the beneficiaries.
The minister further revealed that 38 per cent of the beneficiaries were women including 2 per cent to people with special needs.
She added that it created production opportunities for MSMEs and provided conditional grants to distressed businesses and self-employed individuals who were strained with the payment of salaries during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Katagum further said the anticipated impact of the programme was to directly engage 100,000 MSMEs in the production sector and save 1.3 million jobs; and have self-employed entrepreneurs, and micro and small businesses register in Nigeria as target beneficiaries.
According to her, the survival fund was implemented across five tracks which include; payroll support scheme, artisan and transport scheme, formalisation support scheme, general MSME grants scheme, and guaranteed off-take scheme.
Katagum said the implementation across the five tracks yielded positive results.
“Under the payroll support scheme, the target was to augment the payroll obligations of MSMEs in the health, production, education, hospitality, and food production sectors,” she said.
“In total, 490,408 employees received between N30,000 and N50,000 as three months’ salaries in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
“The artisan and transport scheme was designed to provide a one-off N30,000 grant to 333,000 beneficiaries.
“We currently have 398,260 self-employed individuals and MSMEs who have benefited across the 36 states and the FCT.”
Katagum said the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) formalisation support scheme had achieved its 100 percent target as 250,000 businesses had been successfully registered across the 36 states and the FCT.
“The general MSME grants scheme gave a one-off N50,000 grant to MSMEs and the target was 100,000 MSMEs. A total of 82,491 businesses have benefited from the scheme,” the minister added.
“Similarly, the guaranteed off-take scheme (GOS) recorded a total of 37,024 beneficiary businesses out of the target of 100,000 beneficiaries.
“Under this scheme, the off-take items were products such as face masks, hand sanitisers, and food items among others from micro and small businesses across the 36 states of the federation and the FCT.
“These items were later handed over to the state governments and the FCT for onward distribution to schools, hospitals, NGOs, as well as other public and private institutions.
“Overall, the fund has disbursed the sum of N66,000,020,000 directly to 1,258,183 beneficiaries, including those registered by the Corporate Affairs Commission.”
The minister, who noted that there was significant reliance on technology for the disbursement, said there was an initial lack of trust by the beneficiaries as it required obtaining their details, including BVNs.
“There was a heavy reliance on the use of information communication technology (ICT) for transparency and traceability, which also left the programme susceptible to attempts at infiltration by internet scammers,” she said.
“There were also instances of multiple applications, using forged documentation, fake beneficiaries, and attempts to bribe officials to bypass the processes.”
Meanwhile, Katagum revealed that 19,928 beneficiaries under the guaranteed off-take scheme failed to deliver their items after receiving the 30 percent mobilisation fee, thereby, breaching their contract with the federal government.
She, therefore, urged the beneficiaries to deliver their items or face prosecution.
“It should be noted that despite mass text messages (SMS) sent at least three times to the defaulters and the opening of a dedicated account at BOI for the refund of the initial sum, many of the defaulters have failed to return the initial amount,” she explains.
“The steering committee has directed the appropriate agencies to commence the process of recovering such monies and possibly prosecuting the defaulters, as they have blocked the chances of other MSMEs that would have benefited from the scheme.”
On his part, Tola Adekunle-Johnson, spokesperson to the president on MSMEs and project coordinator MSME survival fund and guaranteed off-take scheme, said there was an initial setback occasioned by initial public mistrust and apathy toward the scheme.
He said this resulted in many applicants failing to complete their registration.