The Federal Government is set to reduce the cost of accessing funds by SMEs within the lifetime of the current administration, as part of strategic efforts to create jobs, generate wealth and enhance economic growth.
The Minister of Trade and Investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga, disclosed this in Lagos, and added that he had already directed the Bank of Industry (BoI) and the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (SMEDAN) to collaborate on creating about five million jobs within the next two years.
The minister spoke during the third series of the empowerment programme for small and growing businesses titled, 'Market Access Nigeria'.
The cost of accessing funds to start and run SMEs includes costs associated with securitisation as well as CAC and FIRS processes, among others. With the Presidential directive that the BoI, which lends at single digit interest rate, be recapitalised, many more SMEs will be able to access cheap funds at minimal costs when the cost-reduction process is completed.
Aganga said, all over the world, SMEs empowerment had become the main economic growth strategy, considering the high employment generation capacities of SMES, adding that, with about 17 million SMEs in Nigeria, the creation of five million jobs was very possible.
He said, "Recent data provided by the National MSMEs collaborative survey undertaken by SMEDAN and the National Bureau of Statistics put the number of MSMEs in Nigeria at 17,284,671, with total employment put at 32,414,884. If each of these SMEs is empowered to create one job each, that makes about 17 million jobs; if 50 per cent of this figure create one job each, that means 8.5 million jobs will be created.
"If a quarter of the total are empowered, and they create one job each, over four million jobs will be created. So the figure is workable and conservative and I've directed the parastatals to get it done as a key performance index. Our job is to put structures in place to make it happen."
Encouraging more entrepreneurs to come up with great ideas that could create quality jobs and enhance inclusive economic growth, he said the federal government was committed to providing the enabling environment for businesses to thrive.
He reiterated that all the factors needed for profitable and sustainable business were abundant in Nigeria, citing market and raw materials as critical success factors of business/investment.
The minister said, "Furthermore, we have concluded modalities for on-line registration of MSMEs to enable us have current data, formalise the informal enterprises, ease the cost of registration, streamline the tax regime and attend to other issues inhibiting business take-off, performance and competitiveness.
"We have also concluded a review of the current National Policy on MSMEs in order to keep it in tune with unfolding economic and social imperatives affecting MSMEs in Nigeria and to align it with international best practices."