The Small and Medium Enterprises Development of Nigeria, SMEDAN has signed a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU with the National Economic Reconstruction Fund, NERFUND and the African Diaspora Partnership for Empowerment Development, ADPED, to enhance entrepreneurial development in the country.
SMEDAN’s Director-General, Alhaji Muhammad Nadada Umar at the ceremony to sign the agreement at his agency’s headquarters in Abuja, explained that the exercise was aimed at developing trade and empowering the youth.
According to him, the new agreement with both NERFUND and ADPED, would lead to the training of more youths in different entrepreneurial skills, provision of funds to the beneficiaries and reduction of poverty in the country.
Umar regretted that despite the abundance of talents among the youths, they are being wasted away due to lack of opportunities in the past, and commended the efforts of the partners towards ensuring maximum creation of jobs for the youths.
He said: “What we are doing here is line with President Goodluck Jonathan’s desire for youth employment in the country. We want to commend the courage of NERFUND and ADPED for their maximum cooperation in developing the youths.
“The African Diaspora Initiative has made it a responsibility that Nigeria must be well developed. This is the reason for this partnership and SMEDAN will ensure that maximum number of youth employment (opportunities) is created in the country,” he added.
Umar, who later admitted that there was serious crisis in funding the training programmes for the youths, said nothing less than N100 billion and N200 billion would be needed from NERFUND and the Bank of Industry respectively for the success of such exercise annually.
Also speaking, the Managing Director of NERFUND, Alhaji Baba Maina Gimba, disclosed that the event “brings to seven the number of institutions that NERFUND has formalised partnership agreement with in aid of the active poor, youth and women groups as well as other members of the investing public”.
Gimba assured that his office will not relent in extending this to every part of the country with the aim of empowering Nigerians through job creation and development of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product.
According to him, “NERFUND is a funding agency to provide money for micro, small and medium scale real production enterprises, MSMEs and it has been very active in the discharge of its responsibility.
By the second quarter of next year, it will embark on another funding exercise for the next batch of entrepreneurs trained in the United States”.
“Through this unique funding methodology, it was possible for the FUND to provide credit to 266 SMEs between 1990 and 1998. The enterprises are spread across the 36 states and the FCT, Abuja. The total value of these loans was US$130m and N3, 061,500,000”, he revealed.
In his remarks, the Executive Director of ADPED, Dr. Adewale Alonge emphasized the need for Nigeria to invest in its youths in order to be fully developed like the Western countries, lamenting the high rate of unemployment and poverty in Nigeria.
Alonge, who described the youths as natural resources that must be adequately tapped for the growth and development of the country, praised the new efforts of President Goodluck Jonathan administration in reducing unemployment and poverty among the populace.
According to him, ADPED is being funded by the US State Department’s Bureau of Culture and Education Affairs to provide opportunities for people of diverse cultures to come together to learn about different points of view and ways of life.