By Chris Ndibe
The Federal Government has urged female entrepreneurs to apply for its ongoing intervention grant for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to enable them overcome challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Amb. Mariam Katagum, the Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment made the call at a news conference on the implementation process of the survival fund on Tuesday in Abuja.
Katagum, who is also the Chairperson, Programme Steering Committee, said the Project Delivering Office (PDO) for the scheme was receiving feedbacks from Nigerians since its registration portal opened on Sept. 21 for applicants.
According to her, the project, which will run for an initial period of three months, has provisions for 45 per cent female-owned businesses and five per cent for those with special needs.
She however noted that there had so far been low women enrolment on the scheme, and therefore called on state and local governments, and trade associations to mobilise women to apply for the grant.
The minister said: “There is need to mobilise more women because by the design of the programme, we are targeting 45 per cent of women beneficiaries and five per cent for those with special needs.
“I use this medium to encourage more women to apply, and we also urge associations to try assisting their members who do not have access to the internet.
“If you are a woman, apply and encourage others to apply because this money is there and we want to ensure that it gets to the targeted beneficiaries,” she said.
Katagum lauded MSMEs’ performances across the country and urged them to take full advantage of the scheme by applying for any category that suits their needs.
She said that although many Nigerians had applied for the grant but there was need for improved awareness creation for MSMEs, especially those in the grassroots to key into it.
According to her, the white list of beneficiaries fully verified for disbursement and payments to the approved block of beneficiaries has also started.
She said that disbursements had been approved for a total of 16,253 MSMEs businesses, accounting for a total of 101,567 beneficiaries.
“Also N30, 000 was paid to each of the 94,696 employees/beneficiaries, while N50, 000 was paid to each of the 6,871 employees/beneficiaries.
“And 2.6 per cent of the beneficiaries are people with special needs, while 43 per cent of the total beneficiaries are women in line with the guidelines on disbursement.
“The disbursements for payroll support commenced last week Wednesday, Nov. 18 and it is ongoing presently across the country.
“However, due to the inability of some states to meet their targets, the portal will be reopened to accommodate such states,” she said.
Katagum said that distribution of beneficiaries across the country so far to include Lagos – 25,000, Kano -17,000 and Abia – 16,000 beneficiaries, while every other state has 13,000 beneficiaries each.
The minister said that the Formalisation Support Scheme, which is simply the registration of 250,000 new businesses with CAC started on Oct. 26.
According her, the scheme has so far registered 9,084 MSMEs from Lagos State, 8,406 from Kano State and 7,906 from Abia, while other states have 6,606 beneficiaries each.
The minister said that prospective beneficiaries under the Artisans and Transport Grants scheme were being paid in three streams with each stream having 12 states.
“Under stream one, 29,000 beneficiaries (artisans) have been approved for payment across the following states, they are FCT, Lagos, Ondo, Kaduna, Borno, Kano, Bauchi, Anambra, Abia, Plateau and Delta.
“While disbursement to beneficiaries under the first stream was ongoing, enumeration of artisans in stream two commenced on Oct. 26 and concluded on Nov. 11.
“Beneficiaries under this stream have been fully verified and will start receiving payments from Tuesday Nov. 24.
“The states under stream two comprise Taraba, Adamawa, Bayelsa, Edo, Ogun, Ekiti, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Enugu and Ebonyi.
She said that enumeration of artisans under the third stream commenced on Nov. 13, and was concluded on Nov. 23 for Akwa-Ibom, Cross-River, Yobe, Sokoto, Nasarawa, Niger, Imo, Oyo, Osun, Jigawa, Gombe, Benue and Zamfara states.