VP’s Remarks At The 3rd Virtual National MSME Awards
REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO, SAN, GCON, VICE- PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, AT THE 3RD VIRTUAL NATIONAL MSME AWARDS ON THURSDAY 16TH OF JULY 2020.
I bring you all greetings from President Muhammadu Buhari, who has specifically asked me to congratulate all the finalists for this year’s National MSME Awards. I want to thank the organizing team for putting this together and our partners for their hard work and creativity in putting up the first virtual MSMEs award.
We are all delighted that the MSMEs, many of whom have spent the past year doing outstanding work, did not miss the chance to be recognized and celebrated at the 2020 edition of the annual MSMEs awards.
We don’t take for granted, the positive impact of these awards of the MSMEs sector in Nigeria. Since it’s inauguration in 2018, hundreds of MSMEs, carefully selected from thousands of annual applications, have benefited from these awards in various ways – cash prizes, cars, and of course, the much needed local and international media attention.
Permit me to take us back to 2018, when the then, little-known Jerry Malo, the CEO of Bennie Agro, took home the most prestigious award of that year.
Benny had been discovered earlier at the Plateau State edition of the National MSMEs Clinic. Today, Bennie Agro is one of the most recognizable innovators in Nigeria. And has since gone on to win several other awards since the recognition that he got at the MSMEs awards.
We must also mention Hajaraisan FZE, whose C.E.O is Alhaji Aminu Banigo, a solar technology company who won the award for the best male participant 2019 after being discovered at the Kano State MSMEs Clinic. The company has since gained greater visibility and is now responsible for the installation of solar panels across the Kano metropolis.
We also have Soupa Nigeria limited, whose C.E.O is Ifeoluwa Olatayo and she works with smallholder farmers in Nigeria. The company won the 2019 edition of the MSME of the year and has gone on to receive international recognition.
These are just few examples of the many MSMEs who are demonstrating the catalyzing impact of the MSME clinics nationwide as well as the annual awards.
So, we can confidently say that the national MSME clinic platform is a potential pipeline for these awards. Which in turn can generate significant exposure, (both locally and internationally) for any shortlisted businesses.
As you may be aware, all the finalists typically gets, as part of the price package, two weeks of media attention to showcase or market their products. I am glad to note that this year has not an exception, despite the Covid-19 pandemic. Globally, businesses are facing their most challenging times possibly in history, and the impact is particularly severe on MSMEs.
The central plan of our response as a Government, to the economic challenges is posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, has been the Economic Sustainability Plan recently launched by president Muhammed Buhari.
In that plan, which essentially envisages a 2.3 trillion-naira stimulus package. We have made extensive provisions for financial support to MSMEs ranging from a Guaranteed Offtake Scheme to a survival fund that includes a pay-roll support programme for qualifying businesses. The Guaranteed Offtake Scheme (GOS), seeks to provide support for MSMEs manufacturing local products by guaranteeing the purchase from them of qualifying products such as: face masks, hand sanitizers, and PPEs for essential medical workers.
These products will then be distributed to Nigerians, Nigerian institutions and entities that would require them.
The survival fund, will help provide pay-roll support to MSMEs with a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 50 staff. The businesses that qualify for this would make available their pay-roll to the Government for verification. Companies that meet the requirements will then be eligible to have the salaries of their verified staff paid directly from the fund for a period of 3 months. The payment will be credited directly to the staff verified on the payroll.
The target beneficiaries of this scheme would include private schools, hotels, road transport workers, creative industries and others, but the verification process will be very rigorous and painstaking.
In addition, we have a N200billion fund, which would be made available to MSMEs in priority sectors such as Healthcare, Agro-processing, Creative Industries, Local Oil and Gas and Aviation. This will be granted through a scheme to be jointly run by the Bank of Industry and NEXIM Bank especially export expansion. The Central Bank is also committed to creating a N100bn target credit facility for MSMEs.
Moreover, the recent Finance Act of 2020 has already made provisions for graduated company income tax rates with zero rates for small companies, those companies who have an annual gross turnover of N25million or less (0%) and a rate reduction for medium-sized companies (20%). This extends incentives to small and medium scale businesses as well.
We have also paid attention to Ease of Doing Business Initiatives, consolidating on previous efforts and actions. Following numerous complaints about regulatory registration fees, NAFDAC recently launched a Palliative Scheme for MSMEs.
The main objective of the scheme has been to reduce product registration fees by 80 percent for a six-month period, and also provide an E-Registration option, in keeping with our desire to promote COVID-19 compliant behavior.
The Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), is also rolling out a plan to register 100,000 new business names at a discounted fee. This will afford small business owners whose businesses are not currently registered to do so efficiently and inexpensively.
Just last month, June 2020, I had the honour of commissioning a 200,000-capacity yam storage facility for smallholder farmers in Zaki Biam Yam Market in Benue State. Zaki Biam is the biggest Yam Market in Nigeria, and certainly in the region, attracting buyers and sellers from across the country and beyond. In addition to the new storage facility, the market saw extensive renovation work on its internal roads, as well as the provision of potable water and other facilities. All across the country, similar MSME focused interventions are being implemented.
Kaduna state is working on a tomato paste production line, Lagos is putting together a fashion hub, the FCT is equally set to launch a carpentry cluster, while Anambra State is almost ready to commission its leather works cluster – all of these scheduled for 2020.
In 2021, Edo, Ekiti, Katsina, Ogun, Bauchi and Enugu will commission ‘Shared Facilities’ that will bring MSMEs together by cluster and provide shared equipment, resources and business support to the entire cluster.
Let me once again; as I close, congratulate all the shortlisted and winning MSMEs across the country. And to those who didn’t make it in this year, don’t give up, keep innovating, keep working hard, your recognition and reward is inevitable.
Every person who has taken it upon themselves to start a business in Nigeria, no matter how small, is a champion!
And we as a Government owe it to all of you, those attending this virtual event, and the tens of millions of others nationwide, to create an enabling environment for you to thrive. This is President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to all of the millions of MSMEs in Nigeria: that we will continue to stand by you, to support you, and create opportunities for you to grow and prosper.
Thank you all very much for listening and thank you also very much for attending this virtual event.
God bless you.