The attention of the Project Implementation Unit of the GEM Project has been drawn to misleading allegations in some sections of media regarding the World Bank Growth and Employment Project.
In a statement by the Strategy and Communications Adviser to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Bisi Daniels the peddlers of the false allegations have continued to circulate them despite repeated efforts to explain the issues raised.
According to the statement, “Contrary to the allegations GEM, a USD$160M World Bank-funded project, being implemented by the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI), has been a success story. It has contributed to the diversification of the Nigerian economy, by supporting sectors that have high growth potential and create massive employment.
“The project supports micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) operating in five high potential sectors of the economy, namely: ICT, entertainment, tourism, hospitality, light manufacturing, and construction.
“It also offers more direct support to firms channelled through a platform- called the Business Innovation and Growth (BIG) Platform – to provide various trainings, technical assistance and grant schemes
“As it had been earlier explained, at the end of 2016, the World Bank rated the GEM project “unsatisfactory and underperforming” and considered scrapping it. After three years of operation, the project had low deployment and was not meeting its job creation and economic development objectives, so it had to be restructured
The restructuring carried out in conjunction with the World Bank Team were as follows.
“On strengthening the management team to deliver on the promise of the GEM Project, this involves deploying more funds directly to SMEs, as opposed to using intermediaries, modifying the project’s existing equity window to an SME investment fund, which is a proven mechanism for boosting growth, creating jobs and increasing entrepreneurship. Improving the coordination and partnership with the World Bank and extending the duration of the programme to ensure that the results can positively affect and reach more Nigerians.
He noted that highlights of Restructuring included the restructuring of Project Implementation Unit (PIU) – focused leadership with new leadership, better and faster disbursement of Funds, more allocation directly to the SMEs, as opposed to consultants and intermediaries the allocation to consultant reduced and change of ineffective programmes and introducing new ones, the private equity window was changed to SME Investment Fund.