Okey Sampson, Umuahia
Over 9,000 artisans and transporters from Abia State would benefit from the Federal Government’s MSME Survival Fund meant to cushion the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. The funds would be disbursed to the beneficiaries any time from now.
This was disclosed in Aba, Abia State, at the weekend by Ubadibo Okonkwo, member, Steering Committee of the MSME Survival Fund, who represented the chairperson of the Steering Committee and Minister of State, Federal Ministry of Industries, Trade and Investment, Amb Mariam Yalwaji Katagum, at a town hall meeting with BMOs and trade associations leaders on the Artisan and Transport support component of the fund.
The Minister said on July 1, President Muhammadu Buhari approved the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP) to help cushion the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
She said the NESP was sub-divided into two MSME Support schemes namely, the MSMEs Survival Fund and the Guaranteed Off-take Stimulus Schemes which were designed to boost the Nigerian economy by saving jobs and creating new job opportunities.
‘The Artisan and Transport Support Scheme is designed to provide 9,009 artisans and transport business operators with a N30,000 operations grant to reduce the effect of income loss during the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant lockdown.’
The scheme which is for tailors, cart pushers, barbers, plumbers, shoemakers, hairdressers, etc, the Minister noted was designed to be inclusive with 45 per cent of the beneficiaries reserved for women-owned businesses and 5 per cent for special needs business.
Abia State focal person of the scheme Chinenye Nwogu said the State Government has over the years been striving to boost SMEs and promote the made-in-Aba goods which he stated has received global acclamation.
While noting that more than 95 per cent of residents of Aba are businessmen and artisans, Nwogu stated that if businesses in Aba were fully helped to develop, Nigerians would have no business in importing goods from abroad as Aba would have supplied all their daily needs.
Thanking President Buhari for the intervention, Nwogu assured that no person in the state, who ought to benefit from the scheme, would be denied the funds.
Some of the participants who spoke with our reporter expressed joy over the scheme which they said would help them to recover from the unpleasant effects of the COVID-19 pandemic with its corresponding lockdown.