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FG to implement NASME’s N1bn youth, women empowerment fund

by Business News Report

The Federal Government says it is set to implement the Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME) one billion Naira each for the Youth and Women Empowerment Fund. The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr Doris Anite, said this at the 2023 West Africa SMEs Exhibition in Abuja. The event has as its theme, “MSMEs 4.0: Enhancing Quality, Productivity, Competitiveness, Resilience, and Sustainability in an Era of Digital Transformation”. Anite, represented by the Director-General, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), Charles Odii, said that the government was also set to establish a technology incubation hub in Abuja.

According to her, the initiative aims to generate more one million jobs across various economic sectors in the country. “These initiatives are a testament to our commitment to fostering entrepreneurship, creating employment opportunities, and significantly contributing to the growth of our nation’s economy. This is with the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment and SMEDAN partnering with NASMEs and with the endorsement of the Federal Government of Nigeria,” she said. The West Africa SMEs Exhibition will serve as a vital platform, bringing together industry leaders, policymakers, and stakeholders. It will help to harness the potential of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), promote trade, foster economic development, and create new opportunities for businesses across the West African region,” she said. The minister commended the organisers of the event for their dedication towards advancing the economic growth, entrepreneurship, and sustainability of the MSMEs sector.

“I express my sincere gratitude to NASME, ECOWAS, UNIDO ITPO Nigeria and SMEDAN for extending this invitation. This event signifies a significant milestone in our collective pursuit of empowering and transforming the Nano, Micro, Small, and Medium-sized Enterprise’s sector in Nigeria and the broader West African region”. The Director-General, National Productivity Centre, Dr Nasir Raji, expressed optimism that the objective of the initiative would be realised while congratulating the organisers of the event. He also reiterated the commitment of the centre to supporting members and the NASMEs where necessary. Also speaking, the Chairman, Board of Trustees, NASMEs, Ubadigbo Okonkwo, highlighted the various challenges faced by small businesses in Nigeria and Africa. According to him, every government in Africa must ensure microeconomic stability to allow SMEs to grow. ”Economic diversification based on SMEs is also an important factor. Trade integration is another key factor that will help African economy to grow.

Now we have embraced AFCFTA, it is the way to go to grow our various enemies in Africa. Earlier, the President and Chairman Governing Council of NASMEs, Dr Abdulrashid Yerima, said the role of the exhibition was to invite MSMEs in technology to meet with investors, grant providers and financial institutions. According to Yerima, the exhibition will also provide a platform for them to engage and identify businesses they want to be supported. He said the one billion Naira empowerment fund was targeted towards providing vocational education to youths and women in the areas of clean technology, renewable energy, digital innovation. The three-day programme was attended by exhibitors from different West Africa countries, and stakeholders in the sector.

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