The Bank of Industry, the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria and the Industrial Training Fund are the major drivers of the recently launched National Enterprise Development Programme (NEDEP) that has been designed to create at least 3.5 million jobs across the country through the development of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) sector which is the engine of growth in most economies.
The new scheme being spearheaded by the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment (MITI) is aimed at harnessing the vast opportunities in the MSME sector to drive inclusive economic growth through skills acquisition, entrepreneurship training, business financing, employment generation as well as wealth creation. And in order to harmonise all SME development activities across the country and achieve maximum impact, the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment is promoting the establishment of SME Councils in all the thirty six states and the Ministry of Federal Capital Territory (MFCT). The SME Councils are structured to comprise relevant state government officials, those of the organised private sector and representatives of SME promotion, development and facilitation agencies.
While speaking at the stakeholders workshop held recently in Abuja, the Honourable Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr Olusegun Aganga announced that the partnership between the Bank of Industry, SMEDAN and the ITF was the first of its kind in the country. The Minister added that he and his team were motivated by the belief that economic transformation and growth were only possible through focus on the MSME sector. And that MITI as well as other implementing agencies were being guided by similar enterprise development initiatives that have been successfully implemented in parts of Asia and Africa.
The Minister expressed optimism that a minimum of 3.5 million jobs can be created provided Nigerians are able to promote the required thousands of new micro enterprises and cooperatives and also expand and modernize existing ones between 2013 and 2015, in view of the country’s huge vibrant and youthful population as well as its coastal location and natural resource endowments. Mr Aganga noted that all the 774 Local Governments in the country have comparative advantages in terms of the raw materials (agricultural, solid minerals and petroleum resources) located in each of them. The economic potentials of the nation’s creative industries are also considerable especially sports, music, movies and fashion.
Commenting on the Bank of Industry’s leadership role in the design and implementation of NEDEP, BOI’s Managing Director and CEO, Ms Evelyn Oputu gave assurance that building on the experiences gained over the years in pursuit of their respective mandates, the Bank, SMEDAN and ITF shall initiate capacity building programmes in entrepreneurship and skills acquisition all over the country and assist those that come up with bankable proposals. She indicated that for these potentials to be actualized, the capacities of sizable number of Nigerians would have to be built rapidly in demand-driven ways. Ms Oputu concluded that BOI would work in close collaboration with BOI’s other domestic and foreign development partners in implementing NEDEP that holds considerable promise for the realization of Nigeria’s development aspirations.