NASME floats N2bn empowerment fund for MSMEs

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By Ikenna Uwadileke

The Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME) says it is committing a N2billion empowerment fund to revolutionise the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) sector.

The National President of the association, Dr Abdulrashid Yerima, said this in a media briefing on Friday in Abuja heralding the 2023 West Africa SME Exhibition scheduled for Oct. 26 to Oct. 28.

Yerima said that the ‘MSME 4.0 Program and Empowerment Funds’ were designed to help MSMEs leverage the opportunities and benefits of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

According to him, adopting digital technologies and solutions can improve the performance of SMEs, market position and adaptability in the changing world.

“Under the theme MSME 4.0: Enhancing Productivity, Competitiveness, Resilience, and Sustainability in an Era of Digital Transformation, this program is poised to bring about significant positive change for MSMEs and the nation as a whole.

“In recognition of the evolving digital landscape and the need for our MSMEs to thrive in this digital age, NASME in collaboration with a coalition of partners is proud to unveil the MSME 4.0 Program and Empowerment Fund.

“NASME is committing one billion Naira towards a Youth Empowerment Fund and another one billion Naira towards a Women Empowerment Fund.

“These funds are designed to foster entrepreneurship and generate one million employment opportunities, significantly contributing to our national economic growth,’’ he said.

While projecting that the exhibition would harness the potential of the AfCFTA, Yerima said that it would promote trade, foster economic development, and create opportunities for businesses across West Africa.

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He added, “Our shared objectives for this event include job creation, income generation, poverty reduction, increased GDP, improved competitiveness of MSMEs, enhanced trade within the sub-region and the structural transformation of West Africa’s economy.

According to him, the launch of the programme and empowerment fund will take place at the exhibition.

Yerima said that the programme would offer training, mentoring, networking, access to markets and finance and other support services to the participating MSMEs.

Earlier, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr Doris Uzoka-Anite, represented by the Chief Industrial Officer in the ministry, Mr Esther Ajibola, reiterated its commitment to support the growth of MSMEs in the country.

Similarly, Dr Olawale Fasanya, the Director-General of Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (SMEDAN), represented by Mr Monday Ewans, Director of Enterprises Development in SMEDAN, Fasanya, emphasised the need to embrace digital technologies and solutions that can improve businesses.

“The agency is also committed to continue to support the MSMEs to overcome the challenges they face.

“We are aware that MSME are confronted with the issues of lack of finance, poor infrastructure, inappropriate legislation, competitiveness, lack of managerial skills among others.

“SMEDAN is committed to help MSMEs tackle the challenges, reduce poverty and create jobs,’’ Fasanya said. (NAN)

Edited by Bashir Rabe Mani

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