South-East beneficiaries laud FG MSME Survival Fund, say it’s timely intervention

By Charles Onyekwere, South-East Bureau Chief

South-East beneficiaries of the Medium, Small and Micro Enterprises (MSME) Survival Fund and Guaranteed Off-take Scheme have lauded the Federal Government for undertaking the business sustainability scheme after COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.

They said this on Tuesday in Enugu during the South-East MSME Survival Fund and the Guaranteed Off-Take Scheme Beneficiary Town Hall Meeting.

One of the beneficiaries of the scheme, Mr Darlington Nnamani, said that the survival fund came timely when his commercial tricycle business came to halt due to an engine problem.

“It was devastating to me even as I had to go and start begging everyone in my neighbourhood in Awkunannaw in Enugu and also went to the house of my enemies but to no avail.

“After two days of looking for a solution, suddenly the alert of N30,000 came from the fund and that changed the story and today, the same tricycle is helping me to still fend for my family,” Nnamani said.

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Mrs Veronica Eke, a Supermarket owner in Nsukka Road, said that the alert of N30,000 she received helped her to restock her shop as its products were expiring after a long period of locking-up during the COVID-19 lockdown.

“The survival fund came timely as it resuscitated my shop as most of the products I stocked for sale started expiring and unfit for human consumption. I thank the Federal Government for the intervention,” Eke said.

Another, Mazi Jude Udeani, an entrepreneur in Aba, Abia, said that the N50,000 alert helped him to keep production going and pay workers in his palm oil processing business.

“At a time, I was thinking on how to pay my workers due to insufficient funds and prolonged lockdown but the N50,000 came and I paid by workers and no one lost his job,” Udeani said.

Mr Okechukwu Maduka, a trader in Ukpo community in Anambra, said that the N50,000 through the survival fund helped him to cope with the hardship of the COVID-19 lockdown.

Earlier, Mr Solomon Uwagbai, representative of the Project Delivery Officer of the scheme, said that the scheme had five tracks in which the funds were disbursed to alleviate the hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Uwagbai noted that the scheme, which is domiciled with the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, had female beneficiaries 45 per cent and special needs beneficiaries five per cent in each of its five tracks.

“The eligibility for the scheme included: registration in Nigeria under the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC); Nigerian-ownership and verifiable BVN of business owners,” he said.

In an address, Mr Ubadigbo Okonkwo, member, Steering Committee of the MSME Survival Fund, said that the five tracks of implementation of the scheme included: payroll support: General MSME grants; Artisan and Transport; CAC formalisation support; and guaranteed off-take.

“In the South-East, the following statistics were achieved as those that had benefited from the scheme: payroll support track (scheme) 64,533 benefited and MSME grants scheme 11,737 benefited.

“In Artisan and Transport scheme 61,046 benefited, CAC formalisation support scheme 34,331 while Guaranteed Off-take scheme 2538 benefited.

“From the South-East region, we have a total of 174,215 beneficiaries,” Okonkwo said.

He explained that the intervention programme of the Federal Government was borne out of the need to stimulate the economy post COVID-19 lockdown recovery, especially for medium, small and micro scale businesses.

“The intervention is also for self-employed individuals previously gainfully employed.

“The scheme’s fund is meant to create and stimulate production opportunities for MSMEs and provide conditional grants to distressed business and self-employed individuals who have been strained with payment of salaries post-COVID19,” he said.

Okonkwo, however, lamented that the successes of the programme was not without some difficulties encountered, which included lack of trust by beneficiaries as it requires obtaining their details including BVN which brought about initial apathy.

“The scheme heavily relied on the use of information communication technology, for transparency and traceability, which also, left the programme susceptible to infiltration by internet scammers,” he said.

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