By Franklin Alli

OPERATORS in the nation’s MSMEs  sector  says  tough conditions have barred  majority of them from being able to access Central Bank of Nigeria’s  N220 billion Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund ( MSMEDF).

According to National Bureau of Statistics, there are over 17 million companies in the MSME sectors in Nigeria. Recall that CBN launched the N220 billion on August 15, 2013 in recognition of the significant contributions of the sub-sector to the economy and to address the existing huge financial gap.

But most of the operators who spoke to Vanguard, lamented that four years after the launch of the fund, majority of companies in the sector have not been able to get the credit facility to improve on their operations.

Alhaji Ali Madugu, Vice President, Small and Medium Industries (SMI) group of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN, told Vanguard in an interview:” A lot of our members applied but they could not access the fund because there are conditionalities and processes, and you don’t go direct to CBN; you have to apply through commercial banks.

Conditionalities and processes

Up to the fourth quarter of 2016, only few of our members said they were able to access the loan, but I can’t tell you right now how many companies under our fold until the last questionnaires we sent in January are received by the middle of February this year. Then I would be able to confirm who and who have been able to get the fund.”

Corroborating to this, Kuti George, Chairman, Nigerian Association of Small Scale Industrialists, (NASSI)Lagos Chapter, said : “ None of our over 3,500 members have been able to access it. ”The major reason is the conditions stipulated to access the loan; if  they want to do something that will work, let them go and learn from the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund, how they did that within a year of conception of the scheme,  they have been able to lend to  over  1,000  small businesses. Let them go and learn how LSETF did their own.  It’s what they have been talking about; it is a matter of conditionality.   We cannot be in recession and say we want to jumpstart our economy and be putting conditions that people cannot meet.

In a way, they look unserious through their policies.  They can’t be rigid about it and want to jumpstart the economy. They should check the list of those who owe banks, they are not MSMEs. It is people who can easily sabotage their policies that get this money, not MSMEs; so, if they want to, let them lower the barrier.

In other nations, they are giving SMEs money with less stringent measures, and cheap interest rates and that is why China, India is bombarding our economy with their own products. If they have put stringent measures the way it’s been done here, they wouldn’t have grown their economy and be exporting to us,” he said.

George disclosed that one of the stringent conditions is that they said they are lending for equipment, they said they are going to lend you about 25 per cent of your turnover. “What is the turnover of an MSME that you want to lend 25 per cent of it?  That’s funny.  Second, if you are going to buy equipment, they are going to place a mien on it. So, the Way forward is they should go and learn how LSETF, is succeeding. Also, guarantee might be enough to get the loan we told them we have association; and association gives their members cooperative loans and people have been paying back. So, they should wake up; they are lost in a dream or mentality that MSMEs are unserious, that when they get the loans, they will use it to marry second wife.  In fact, they are living in the past- it makes them look unserious.”



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