FG To Formalise 1m Businesses At Discounted Rate

The Federal Government has announced plans to formalise one million businesses across the country at a discounted rate.

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Vice President Kashim Shettima disclosed this on Tuesday when he launched the Expanded National Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) Clinic in Makurdi, the Benue State capital.

The MSME Clinic, which is the first of its kind under President Bola Tinubu’s administration, aims to empower micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) by breaking down barriers and providing crucial resources.

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Benue’s pioneership of the MSME Clinic sets the stage for a nationwide rollout scheduled to traverse Ebonyi, Ogun, Delta, Kaduna, Borno, Katsina States, and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in a meticulously planned itinerary for the first half of 2024.

This will culminate in the National MSME Awards, a fitting celebration of entrepreneurial spirit coinciding with World MSME Day, on June 27, 2024, in Abuja.
The Senior Special Assistant to The President on Media & Communications, Office of The Vice President, Stanley Nkwocha said, while addressing entrepreneurs and stakeholders at the Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (IBB) square in Makurdi, VP Shettima emphasised the federal government’s commitment to creating a thriving MSME ecosystem.

He acknowledged the crucial role MSMEs play in job creation and economic development, even as he pledged government’s unwavering support to empower them.

“We have everything to guide your ambition,” Senator Shettima assured while delivering his speech titled, “Benue State: Nurturing Enterprises, Embracing Prosperity.”

Stating that his principal, President Tinubu, is committed to resolving the bottlenecks affecting the MSME space in Nigeria and will persist until these issues are resolved, the VP noted that the N75 billion loan scheme from Bank of Industry and Access Bank’s discounted N50 billion fund offer is already in place as crucial financial support for entrepreneurs.

He said, “We currently have in place a N75 billion 9% single-digit loan from BOI. Additionally, Access Bank has made N50 billion of their fund available to MSMEs at a discounted rate of 15%, which could significantly increase based on loan performance. Mr. President is committed to resolving the bottlenecks affecting the MSME space in Nigeria and will persist until these issues are resolved.”

The Vice President hailed the state’s industrious spirit and entrepreneurial drive, describing it as a “beacon of inspiration” for the entire country.

“This clinic isn’t just about fulfilling President Tinubu’s promise,” declared Shettima, adding that “it’s a tribute to Benue’s unmatched work ethic and entrepreneurial drive.”

Lauding the state’s dedication to agriculture, art and commerce, he pointed out that “these stand as a testament to the remarkable productivity ingrained within the core of Benue State.

“Every business owner in Benue, whether in Makurdi or Otukpo, Gboko or Katsina-Ala, is a priority,” he added.

Senator Shettima also announced plans by President Tinubu for a world-class fashion hub in Makurdi, dedicated to the state’s thriving tailoring cluster which, according to him, is set to be operational within 90 days.

“Now, hear another piece of good news from Mr. President: His Excellency, President Bola Ahmed, has unveiled the plan to establish a world-class fashion hub in Makurdi for use by small businesses in the tailoring cluster in the state. This hub will be ready in 90 days,” the Vice President stated.

Earlier in his address, the state Governor, Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia, declared that the Benue State government is open for business, just as he emphasized the state’s commitment to supporting and empowering small and medium-sized businesses (MSMEs) as a key driver of economic growth.

The Governor highlighted the diverse range of MSMEs thriving in Benue, from organic food producers like Andor Global Foods to innovative motorcycle builders and traditional attire weavers.

He also celebrated Aorkwagh Farms’ work in regenerative farming and the “Made in Benue” brand’s creativity as examples of the state’s entrepreneurial spirit.

Governor Alia who lauded their contributions to local agriculture, healthy living and cultural heritage however acknowledged the challenges faced by MSMEs, including insecurity, regulatory hurdles, and access to finance.

He assured participants that his administration was actively tackling these issues by streamlining processes, removing bottlenecks and enacting laws against extortion, including “matching ground.”

Also, Benue State Commissioner for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr Orpin Alumo, noted that the MSMEs Clinic will mark the turning around of Benue State, moving it from a civil service state to an industrial state.

Other dignitaries at the MSME Clinic Launch included Deputy Governor of Benue State, Barr. Sam Ode; Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator George Akume; Speaker of the Benue State House of Assembly, Hon. Aondoa Dajoh; Chief Judge of Benue State, Justice Maurice Ikpambese; members of the National and State Assemblies, and members of the State Executive and Security Council, among others.

The Vice President was joined at the event by heads of key agencies, including Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Bank of Agriculture (BOA), Bank of Industry (BOI), Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM), National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Industrial Training Fund (ITF), Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and National Sugar Development Council (NSDC).

The clinic also promises immediate access to working capital, formalization assistance through the CAC, and export guidance from NEPC. Agencies like NAFDAC and SON were present at the launch to facilitate product certification, while FIRS offers tax advisory services.

VP Visits IDP Camp, Promises More Humanitarian Aid, Skills Development

Meanwhile, Vice President Shettima took time in the state and visited the Ichwa IDP camp in Makurdi, offering solace and support to those displaced by conflict.

He met with families, listened to their stories of loss and displacement and assured them of President Tinubu’s unwavering commitment to their well-being.

The VP promised continued humanitarian aid, explored avenues for skills development and livelihood opportunities within the camp, pledging to expedite the process of safe resettlement.

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