By Moses Uwagbale
Some artisans in Bariga Area of Lagos State have benefitted from the disbursement of the Federal Government’s N75 billion Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) survival funds.
Mr Tola Johnson, Special Assistant to the President on MSMEs, spoke at the activation of the Artisan Scheme of the MSME Survival Fund by Bank of Industry (BoI) in Lagos.
According to him, the fund is to cushion the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on small businesses in Nigeria.
He said that plans to kick off the payroll support scheme were underway.
Johnson stated that the disbursement was in phases to enable the successful and effective monitoring and distribution of the scheme.
“It is no news that the pandemic affected many businesses and the government in its wisdom thought about how it could support different clusters of people.
“We have people for the payroll support, the artisan and the transport sectors.
“We also have people that we give money to cushion the effect of the pandemic on their businesses.
“The federal government resolved to support 500,000 people every month for three months, and also support 300,000 artisans with a N30, 000 one-off grant and N50, 000 to about 100,000 businesses that have been affected by the pandemic.
““We are carrying out this programme in phases so that we can learn from the mistakes of the first and correct in the second stream.
“We are actually trying to monitor to a large extent to ensure that what was approved is what is being done,” he said.
Johnson added that in the Bariga cluster alone, no fewer than 400 people had benefitted from the scheme.
He said that 11 other clusters were approved last week and a second stream of states was waiting for approval for disbursement.
Earlier, Mr Balogun Olatunde, Chairman, National Union of Tailors (NUT), Bariga Chapter, commended the FG for supporting small businesses and appealed for more efforts to cushion the effects of the pandemic.
Olatunde said that most of the tailors under his jurisdiction were in need of loans to expand their businesses.
“If this is done, tailoring is one of the surest ways to provide job opportunities for the nation’s teeming unemployed youths,” he said.
A beneficiary, Kolawole Yusuf, said the disbursement was laudable and urged the federal government to expand its disbursement net to engage more beneficiaries.
“Programmes such as this would go a long way to raise the standard of living of the `common’ Nigerian.
“We also need more support by way of loans and equipment,’’ he said.