The Federal Government remains deeply committed to creating a more business-friendly environment for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to thrive, as they are the engine room of the Nigerian economy, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.
Prof. Osinbajo stated this on Friday, September 18, at the virtual commissioning of the Fashion Cluster Shared Facility for MSMEs, the Eko Fashion Hub 1, in Lagos State.
He explained that the Economic Sustainability Plan includes a Survival Fund, adding that President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval of the implementation of the MSMEs Survival Fund as part of the ESP is to cushion the impact of COVID-19 on the economy. This, he noted, not only highlights the commitment of the administration to supporting MSMEs, but also the importance of MSMEs to the nation’s economy.
He said, “under the Survival Fund is a Payroll Support Scheme, which will provide up to N50,000 in monthly salaries for up to ten (10) staff of a qualifying business, for a period of three months.
“There is also a N50,000 grant for 100,000 small and medium-scale businesses, while 333,000 self-employed persons working as artisans and transporters will benefit from a one-off grant of N30,000.
“The President has also approved that the Federal Government bear the full cost of business name registration for 250,000 new businesses nationwide.
“We are doing all these to support MSMEs across the country to maintain their staffing levels and keep their businesses afloat through these very challenging times.”
The Vice President said the Buhari administration’s commitment to the success of small businesses is evident in its MSMEs Clinics initiative, which extends business support services to small businesses across the country, of which the MSMEs Shared Facility Scheme is a core component.
The Eko facility, which was developed through a collaboration between the Federal Government, the Lagos State Government, and the Organized Private Sector, is an end-to-end fashion production centre equipped with needed machinery and will be made available to the public under a shared facility style structure.
According to the VP, “when they (MSMEs) thrive, the economy thrives, when they struggle, the economy struggles.”
He added that the MSMEs’ Shared Facility Scheme being implemented by the Buhari Administration under the National MSMEs Clinics, “seeks to provide high-quality operating equipment where small businesses can access at a reasonable cost, within a conducive space.”
According to the Vice President, the facilities, “help reduce operating costs for users, allowing them to invest the savings in expanding their businesses and hiring more staff.”
It would be recalled that in June this year, the Vice President had virtually commissioned and handed over the 200,000-capacity Yam Storage Facility at the Zaki Biam International Yam Market in Benue State.
The VP stated that there are also plans to establish more Shared Facilities in other parts of the country, including in Kaduna, Anambra and the FCT.
Speaking further on the significance of the Facility in Lagos State, regarded as Africa’s fashion capital, the VP added that, “the Eko MSME Fashion Hub 1 being commissioned today (which is strategically located by the old Alade market, just off the Allen Avenue roundabout, one of the leading commercial hubs on the continent) is equipped with first-rate machines and equipment. I am told it will service 380 MSMEs daily, and 136,800 yearly.
The VP noted, “the choice of Alade Market and the general Allen Avenue area was a unanimous one arising from extensive consultations between the Federal Government’s MSME Clinics project, the Lagos State Government and the fashion cluster in Lagos.
“With the launch of the Eko MSME Fashion Hub 1, MSMEs in and around Ikeja will no longer have to travel far to use equipment that is expensive for individual businesses to procure by themselves such as those for making button-holes or monogramming.
“With its full-scale production line, this Hub will enable the production of a diverse range of clothing and garments: wedding dresses, military uniforms, office wear, and similar products. Very soon, the products of the Hub will be ubiquitous on the streets and in stores around the country. The fashion industry will be one of Nigeria’s biggest sources of revenues, it will be bigger than oil.”
Prof. Osinbajo added that the Buhari administration is also supporting small businesses by improving access to credit through the Central Bank, Development Bank of Nigeria, Bank of Industry, and others; and lessening the tax burdens, through initiatives like the Finance Act, “which has exempted businesses generating less than N25 million in annual turnover from Companies Income Tax. Those with a turnover of between N25m and N100m will only pay 20% corporate income tax instead of the normal rate of 30%.”
There are 161 machines at the EKO facility, including 74 industrial straight sewing machines, 10 industrial steam pressing irons, four monogramming machines, eight industrial button-hole and five industrial button tacking machines, Tinko and Coil machines, hemming and industrial weaving machines, among others. The Facility also has a 100kva standby generator and a 2kva solar power system.
The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who was physically present at the event in Ikeja, commended the President and Vice President for supporting the scheme and stated that there would be plans to replicate the same in other parts of the state.
Virtually present at the commissioning was the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola; Honourable Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mariam Katagum; CEO and Group Managing Director, Access Bank, Herbert Wigwe; and the Special Assistant to the President on MSMEs, in the Office of the Vice President, Tola Johnson.
Other include the CEO, Bank of Industry (BOI), Mr Olukayode Pitan; Director-General/CEO, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (SMEDAN), Dr Dikko Umaru Radda; Registrar General/CEO, Corporate Affairs Commission, Alhaji Garba Abubakar; Managing Director, NEXIM Bank, Abba Bello, among others.
Other government officials on the ground at the commissioning include the State Commissioner for Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives, Dr Lola Akande, among others.