Mr Mimshach Obioha, an Economist, has called for the establishment of a fund to serve as a post-COVID-19 stimulus package for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to revive the economy after the pandemic.
Obioha who is the Executive Director, Ventures Platform Foundation (VPF), an enterprise support and development organisation, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Wednesday.
He said that the Federal Government should go beyond providing palliatives for the vulnerable people but to also ensure the economy does not collapse and affect the fall of MSMEs.
Obioha advised the government to set up the fund through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to assist in reviving MSMEs after COVID-19.
“So, we need to find a way to create a fund to help stimulate the economy and ensure that companies don’t let go of their staff.
“The unemployment rate is bad enough and we are going to be in serious recession if more people lose their jobs now and after this pandemic,” Obioha said.
According to him, the organisation which provides grants to startups is putting together a fund in partnership with few other organisations to help struggling startups get back on their feet after the pandemic.
He noted that the fund put together would go a long way to assist the government in promoting the growth and recovery plan of the economy.
“We are giving them a grant that will make them be able to run at least for this year to ensure they don’t cut down their staff or run out of business before the pandemic is over and after.
“Nigerian economy may likely not come back this year because we are seeing businesses lose revenue at this time and closing down.
“Most of them are able to manoeuvre but when you think about the numbers, there are more people suffering than those gaining.
“We have also supported a couple of startups in the healthcare system; we have the ‘GENERAL CARE’ that provided geriatric care to the elderly people by engaging doctors that visit their houses and check on them monthly.
“We also have ‘KANGPE RELIANCE, an HMO that is providing health insurance to the poorest of the poor people in the country and now we have some of them supporting the NCDC in the fight against COVID-19.
Obioha further said that as an oil-based economy, the country would be seriously affected by the drop of oil at the international market.
He added: “With the restriction on movement, there is also going to be a limitation on the amount of foreign investment into the country because everybody is trying to keep their money in their own country and trying to solve their problems internally.
“So it is very clear that Nigeria’s economy that is hugely based on inflow from outside the country, on oil reserves and oil revenue would suffer a huge setback if we don’t plan well.
The VPF Director, however, called for all hands to be on deck to prevent the dwindling of local private companies to close the intending financing gap in the economy due to dwindling foreign exchange occasioned by the pandemic.
NAN reports that Ventures Platform, a Pan – African early-stage fund had earlier given out 21,000 dollars to seven startups after a COVID-19 Innovation Challenge conducted virtually for about 500 companies and entrepreneurs.
The startups including GLOEPID, Wellvis Health’s COVID Triage, INFODEMICS, My Service Agent, which are currently providing solutions and platforms to NCDC and MTN to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the country.