By Funmi Emmanuel, Abuja.
Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria, SMEDAN and the Industrial Training Fund, ITF have resolved to drive the National Enterprises Development Programme, NEDEP which they described as a catalyst for strengthening the entrepreneurial spirit of Nigerians.
Both agencies and the Bank of Industry, BoI are mandated to address the challenges facing the Micro Small and Medium Enterprises, MSMEs in Nigeria.
To this end, the Director General of the Industrial Training Fund, ITF, Dr. Mrs. Juliet Chukkas Onaeko today met with her SMEDAN counterpart, Alhaji Bature Umar Masari in his office in Abuja.
Masari emphasised on the need for the three agencies to be fully committed to the NEDEP Programme as it was designed to address the challenges that are stifling the growth of MSMEs sector in the country.
He said all stakeholders are engaged to ensure a holistic framework is put in place to directly address these barriers, adding that ITF is there to ensure MSMEs have the requisite skills while SMEDAN will provide business support services working with MSMEs to prepare bankable business plans for the BoI to provide funding for eligible small businesses.
The director general, who said NEDEP was expected to create jobs for millions of Nigerians, added that so far over 40 cooperative societies have been formed, noting that the programme pulls together public sector capacity and private sector expertise in addressing these challenges.
He said the visit of the ITF boss was timely as it will further strengthen the collaboration between both agencies in their quest to develop the MSMEs in the country.
Masari further said SMEDAN identifies with ITF’s National Industrial Skills Development Programme, NISDP which is meant to turn Nigeria’s quantitative human and physical resource advantage to productive advantage as well as providing skills to support the National Industrial Revolution Plan, NIRP.
He also expressed the readiness of SMEDAN to make available the 23 Industrial Development Centres, IDC in the country for the implementation of NISDP, saying the centres have enough facilities to train youths under the scheme.
Earlier, Onaeko had reiterated the need for agencies to synergise as both have crucial and important roles to play in the economic development of Nigeria.
She also hinted that the fund was looking at the possibility of utilising the 23 IDCs located in 23 states of the federation for the training of its youths under the NISDP.
The ITF boss said NEDEP and NISDP are central to whatever they do as parastatals under the Federal Ministry of Industry Trade and Investment, commending the role of SMEDAN in the implementation of the NlSDP.
She said the fund can also provide support to SMEDAN in the implementation of its One Local government One Product, OLOP scheme as it needs skill development and the fund is open for collaboration.