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15,000 jobs, N7bn direct funding for businesses created – SMEDAN

The Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) has said the agency created 15,000 jobs and facilitated N7 billion funding for SMEs in…

The Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) has said the agency created 15,000 jobs and facilitated N7 billion funding for SMEs in the first 100 days of its Director General, Charles Odii, in office.

Odii was appointed in 2023 as the head of the agency by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu based on his extensive contributions to the MSME sector, including the design and execution of projects that highlight and facilitate support for small businesses in Nigeria and across the continent.

A statement on Monday said on assumption of office on October 13, 2023, he introduced a seven-point prosperity agenda focusing on providing SMEs with access to finance, markets, capacity building, partnerships, a business-friendly environment, and streamlined processes for sustainable growth.

The statement read in part, “Achieving key milestones in just three months, he implemented reforms at SMEDAN, incorporating digital and data-driven approaches to address challenges hindering SME growth and foster prosperity.

“These accomplishments align with President Tinubu’s Renewed Hope agenda for inclusive economic growth and poverty eradication. Mr. Odii’s success distinguishes him as a key contributor to the administration’s goals, impacting grassroots communities and laying the foundation for rapid rural industrialization, a crucial solution to Nigeria’s economic challenges.

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“During this period, the agency trained thousands of artisans and skilled workers across various sectors of the economy, providing them with tools that enabled them to become fully functional and start earning income. Furthermore, additional individuals received financial support, allowing them to expand their businesses.

“This expansion, in turn, led to increased labor needs, prompting the engagement of more individuals to meet the growing demand. In total, the agency successfully created over 15,000 jobs through these skill acquisition and enterprise support programs, revitalizing the local economies of numerous communities in the country as a consequence.”

According to the statement, some of the key achievements of the agency under Odii include securing of a N5bn single-digit interest loan with Sterling Bank, launch of women and youth desk, flagoff of the Conditional Grant Scheme (CGS) and internship programme.

It stated, “SMEDAN secured a groundbreaking agreement with Sterling Bank, unlocking a N5bn fund at single-digit interest rates to empower businesses. Over 200,000 applications have been received, and due diligence is underway for disbursement. Collaborating with Anambra and Enugu state governments, SMEDAN injected N1bn into MSMEs in each state under a matching fund agreement.

“Economic activities at the grassroots level were revitalized with a cash injection of N50,000 into nano businesses, creating jobs with the condition that they hire one more person. Green Energy and Climate Change Desk was launched to address environmental challenges impacting businesses. SMEDAN introduced the Climate Change Desk, supporting displaced businesses and promoting the adoption of green energy solutions.

“A state-of-the-art office complex was commissioned, housing dedicated staff and featuring facilities such as a textile and garment hub for fashion businesses and a woodwork and furniture facility for aspiring artisans. In commitment to early entrepreneurship readiness, a student internship programme – SMEDAN Undergraduate Internship Program (SUIP) – was launched to provide students with real-world business experience and resources to start, continue, and scale. Baze University served as the pilot ground, with more universities set to partner with the agency to execute the programme.”

“Recognising the pivotal role of women in SMEs, a dedicated desk was launched to provide direct access to opportunities designed for women entrepreneurs.”

The agency said during the period, it launched the National Council on SMEs Chaired by Vice President Kashim Shettima, with SMEDAN serving as the secretariat of the Council, thereby positioning the agency to drive policy changes and facilitate inter-governmental collaboration for strategic SME investments.

It further stated that a weekly initiative connecting SMEs with resources and knowledge needed for growth was organised to allow entrepreneurs, regulators, and experienced SME development professionals collaborate and provide mentorship and solutions, thereby creating a one-stop shop for SMEs

“There was a cultural reset within the agency aimed at fostering creativity and teamwork, accompanied by a digital transformation empowering staff with tools and training for greater productivity and progress tracking. The agency has launched various social clubs to promote a healthy lifestyle, enhance productivity and focus, and instil a sense of shared mission.

“Continuing its data-driven approach for impact, the agency is set to commence a nationwide small business census to create a credible and comprehensive database of SMEs in the country and enhance the quality of its interventions,” it added.

 

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