Access to business finance is one of the major challenges to operators in the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) space across economic sectors. This has hampered competitiveness not just in the production processes, but indeed the entire value chain operations in the MSMEs sub-sector.

In order to address the issues, the Federal Government provided various interventions across the economic sector, like the Small Scale Farmers’ funds, artisanal and mining funds and quite recently, the Bankers Committee Special Intervention funds for access by MSMEs operators.

Despite these economic diversification efforts of government, however, the operators and target beneficiaries for the funds still find difficulty accessing the finances.

This has necessitated the organisation of focused group discussions with the MSMEs operators and Small Scale Farmers with the view to restrategising on ways to make the intervention more easily accessible.

At a stakeholders’ meeting held at Bolten White, Hotel, Abuja recently, some MSMEs owners spoke about the challenges faced in trying to access the business funds.

“I have tried to get the Trader Moni loan from the Bank of Industry but the problem we face is the cumbersome demand made by the bank. You cannot ask a small business owner to bring guarantors on level 12 in the Federal Civil Service or ask him or her to get a landed property to access the loan.

“They have asked us to write business plan which we have done that. But the bottleneck remains getting someone that will guarantee that money,” Okpala Kenneth, an entrepreneur said.

He therefore suggests that cooperatives and business groups should be allowed to stand as guarantors for their members as that will make it easier for them to access the loans.

The National Vice President of Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Alhaji Sanusi Maijama, said the forum was aimed at measuring and monitoring the benefits, challenges and issues farmers were facing in accessing the GEEP FG Farmer Moni.

“There are many issues with the implementation of the GEEP Farmer Moni being disbursed by the Bank of Industry, that is the reason for this forum. We want to tell the government the weaknesses, the areas of challenges, so there can be improvement and access to these funds.

“There is no better window than for the government to listen to us. Because what the disbursement window will tell them is not what you will hear from the real beneficiaries,” Maijama said.

The Senior Special Assistant, Technical, to the Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME), Chris John Mamuda says: “Yes, the funds are intervention funds, but they are meant to help businesses to grow.

“It should be disbursed in a more professional way. A way that is more sustainable. The way in which you can see transparency, you can see accountability and then where there is repayment by the MSMEs. That is how we can measure the impact,” Mamuda said.

The Project Officer, FCT at the Bank of Industry (BOI) says for small business owners who have invested in their businesses already and have generated employment, the BOI will assist and encourage such businesses.

The Director General, Global Centre For Human Empowerment and Entrepreneurship Development (GLOCHEED), Mrs Rose Gyar,  in a paper said in order to achieve the development of the MSMEs sub-sector,  government must deliberately invest in it to bridge the ever-widening gap between the policies, practical implementation and the beneficiaries.

It should: “Establish an institutional framework for a Public Private Partnership between the public sector stakeholders and the private sector to drive the process of partnership, collaboration and support with the Business Membership Organisation (BMO).

“Establish institutional partnership with the BMOs through linkages and facilitations.

“Provide support for the institutionalisation of partnership structures between public and private sector MSMEs stakeholders.

“Create a platform for synergy among public sector operators and between public and private sector stakeholders,” she said.

A Federal Partnership Facilitator at the DFID Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn Programme (PERL), Onyi Ough, whose organisation sponsored the event, said government and the Small Scale Farmers Association have to strategise to know what works best and that is what the forum has achieved.

“The forum could have been richer if we had Bank of Agriculture, CBN, NESREA. But we had the Bank of Industry and staff of the Office of the Vice President and experienced MSMEs advocates.

“They will take the feedback to the vice president  and we will like to take this further if possible and have audience with the vice president,” the partnership facilitator stated.

Source: Daily Trust