The World Bank has indicated its readiness to put in $160 million(N31.5 billion) in the development of Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in Nigeria within the next five years, explaining that the intervention would go a long way in addressing some identified challenges facing businesses across the country.
Out of the amount, $84 million(N16.5 billion) would be given as grants, with successful MSME getting $10,000 (N1.97 million) maximum grant, while the balance goes into technical support and other logistics.
The World Bank’s Country Programme Director for Nigeria, Rachid Benmessaoud gave this indication in Abuja on Tuesday, during the official launch of the Business Innovation and Growth (BIG) platform.
The project, which is under the growth and innovative project domiciled in the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, is aimed at increasing the visibility of MSMEs in Nigeria.
The BIG platform is also a multi benefit intervention of the ministry that would run for the next five years while interfacing with thousands of businesses across the country in the area of technical supports, training and finance.
Benmessaoud said the platform will be the main channel through which the assistance is made available to MSMEs, building the capacity of firms and helping them to organize in order to facilitate better access to finance.
He said the project would stimulate job creation in areas such as ICT, construction, entertainment, light manufacturing including agro processing, hospitality and tourism.
He added that the scheme is also aimed at making resources available for some of the key concepts raised by business owners, adding that with the federal government’s focus on the need to create two million jobs each year through industrialization, public works and agricultural expansion, the GEM project will provide the needed incentives to achieve the aim.
He also highlighted challenges of access to finance, double taxation and corruption, coupled with lack of managerial skills, as major constraints to job creation.
According to him, grants will be giventhough various windows designed around the differing needs of individual businesses, consortia of businesses and investors.
He advised SMEs to key into the platform not only for the benefits it would afford their businesses but having in mind the importance of creating jobs and making the larger society to grow.