Like in many underdeveloped countries, SMEs contribute greatly to the workforce in Nigeria, but the previous months have recorded the highest percentage of lost business and jobs, making life uneasy for many Nigerians.
Unprepared for the unprecedented effects of the global pandemic, many businesses have packed up and many households still striving to make ends.
In July 2020, The Central Bank of Nigeria through the NIRSAL Microfinance Bank magnanimously announced a POST COVID recovery scheme to access up to $70,000. The objective is to assist SMEs and households cushion the effects of the pandemic.
Abiodun Ihebuzor, Chairman of the Nigeria Association of Small and Medium Enterprises Abuja applauded the initiative, stating that the project presents an indicator structured around SMEs alleviation from the impact of COVID-19, he further disclosed that banks in Nigeria will allocate 5% of its turnover for this purpose. He seemingly expressed his uncertainty and concern towards allocating the funds to all affected beneficiaries as this could be affected by a number of factors like misinformation.
In October 2029, it was reported that about 14,850 families and SMEs had accessed the funds, and many others unable to access these funds despite successfully applying. A report from Daniel Odi, an entrepreneur in the central district of Abuja, confirmed the information, expressing his disappointment towards the fund allocation process. Many other entrepreneurs expressed their doubts towards this scheme as they believe that the allocated fund would rather be embezzled by political officials than used for the actual purposes it was designated.
Ihebuzor in his final statement urged Nigerians to exercise Patience.
“In terms of effectiveness, it is a little bit early to say it is not yet satisfactory. It is not yet satisfying because there are a lot of disgruntling comments from individuals who have applied and it is first of its kind in the country, it is a learning process,” he added.
He elaborated that one of the processes involved in accessing the fund will involve the applicant undergoing tailored training for 5 days by the Enterprise Development Institute (EDI) approved and recognized by the CBN.