Imo Government Urges Artisans, Business Owners to Access MSME Fund

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The Imo Government has advised artisans, transporters and other business owners in the state to key into the Federal Government’s Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Survival Fund to empower and grow their businesses.

Mrs Amaka Njoku, the Special Adviser to the Imo Governor on Bureau for the Coordination of Donor/Development Partners Fund, gave the advice in Owerri on Tuesday at a town hall meeting organised for artisans and transporters in the state.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the meeting was tagged “MSME Survival Fund: Artisan and Transport Support Scheme Town Hall Meeting”.

Njoku expressed regret that in spite of continuous sensitisation by her office, artisans and businessmen in the state had refused to access the fund and urged them to take advantage of the laudable project.

She described the fund as a COVID-19 Survival Initiative under the Federal Ministry of Trade and Industry Payroll Support.

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“Imo State has been lagging behind when it comes to accessing funds from the Federal Government. In order to benefit from the MSME Survival Fund, the Imo Governor, Sen. Hope Uzodimma, appointed a focal person in my honour.

“I, therefore, call on Imo Artisans, business owners, companies to remove doubt, fears and biases and come and register with the office because there are a lot of advantages.

“Artisans should not be afraid to release their BVN. This is a good venture from the Federal Government to cushion the effect of COVID-19 pandemic,” Njoku said.

Mrs Mariam Katagum, the Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, said the town hall meeting was to interact with and engage the artisans and transporters in Imo on the various schemes the Federal Government designed to alleviate the effect of the lockdown occasioned by COVID-19.

Katagum, who was represented by Mr Ubadigbo Okonkwo, a Member, Board of Trustees, Nigeran Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME), called on artisans to ensure they benefited from the fund.

“The survival fund is a conditional grant of 30,000, “grant not a loan”, to 333,000 Nigerians. For Imo State that is about 9000 beneficiaries of which 45 per cent of them should be women. So they will benefit by a grant of N30,000 each,” Katagum said.

Kenechukwu Igwesi, the Desk Officer, Imo State Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) Survival Fund, commended the artisans and transporters for attending the meeting.

He said the project delivery office of the Nigeria Association of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (NSME) has been working with Imo Government to ensure the fund reached every artisan and business person in the state.

Igwesi said the MSME survival fund project of the Federal Government was meant to give palliatives to artisans and transporters affected by the lockdown of COVID-19 pandemic to cushion its effect.

“Today’s programme is for artisans and transporters and the essence is to enlighten them on their role regarding the fund, get their questions and clarify some basic lingering issues, especially the BVN provision and to assure them of trust.

“In the survival fund, we have five major categories vis: the payroll, guaranteed job seekers, the artisans and transportation, the harmonisation fund and general grant. There is also a designated portal where people can key in, so there is no room for fraud,” he said.

Igwesi advised Imo people to comply with the directive by registering to benefit from the scheme, saying the project was real.

NAN reports that some of the participants lauded the Federal Government’s gesture and urged the artisans and businessmen to do the necessary registration to be part of it.

Mr Joachin Nwachukwu, a participant with First Link Concept, thanked the Federal Government for the gesture, saying his company was already a beneficiary and urged others to key in.

Mrs Nkechi Emegha, State Coordinator Hair Dressers and Barbers Association promised to identify with the state government on the fund to be able to access it with her members.

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