The scheme will see 333,000 Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the country being given N30,000 support.
Mrs. Ibukun Awosika, a member of the Steering Committee, MSME Sustainability Group, said in Lagos that the sustainability plan was introduced by President Muhammadu Buhari on July 1.
Awosika, also Chairperson, Board of Directors, First Bank of Nigeria, said that the operation grant was being given to reducing the effect of income loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its resultant lockdown.
“The scheme aims to provide 9,009 beneficiaries in each of the 36 states of the federation and the FCT by leveraging duly registered and recognized associations.
“This is done with the objective of having their members benefit directly from the scheme so that they can attest to its transparency and effectiveness.
“We will depend very much on both individual participation and the honesty of the associations in ensuring that those who are qualified are the ones supported, who benefit,” she said.
Awosika said that responsible evaluations would be done before the money is disbursed to those approved for it.
“We encourage you to open an account number so that the money would be paid directly into the beneficiary’s account as we will not be handing out cash,” she said.
Awosika said that certain key programs such as the Guarantee Off Take the program and the Payroll program would greatly benefit and add value to the artisans and transport operators, beneficiaries of the scheme.
“Guarantee Off take program is directed at benefiting certain people in the productive sector of the country.
“Certain categories of products will be ordered by the government from Nigerian producers in those sectors with the aim of also benefiting those states within which they function.
“You will hear more about it as we kick off each segment of the program,” she said.
Awosika said that the payroll support which kicked off on Sept. 21 involved company owners who had been challenged by COVID in their ability to pay salaries to their workers.
“Therefore, the government has instituted a program that allows company owners to apply for salary support of a maximum of N50,000 for a maximum of 10 members of staff for a period of three months.
“The qualification criteria have been made simple in order to ensure that many companies can benefit from it within the budget that the government is working with.
“We already have hundreds of thousands of applications from Nigeria,” she said.
Mr. Kayode Pitan, Managing Director, Bank Of Industry and a member of the steering committee, said the government wanted to ensure that women got their fair share from the scheme.
“Forty-five percent of those who are going to benefit from the scheme in each state will be women and there is also 5 percent reserved for those with special needs.
“The amount is N30,000 per individual, which will be given to the beneficiaries through the associations,” he said.
Pitan said that all associations must be duly registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) as a requirement to be able to obtain the funds for their members.
“Each beneficiary also has to have a BVN number, but if you do not have one, you can still benefit through the leadership of the association registered with the CAC,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Yinka Fisher, Lagos State Coordinator, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) lauded the initiative as a way of ameliorating losses made by companies during the COVID period lockdown.
“The money will have a multiplier effect for those who are in this sector and improve the productivity of workers and the owners of the business,” Fisher said.