Mr. Ebiekure Eradiri, the Director-General of Bayelsa State Microfinance and Enterprise Development Agency (BYMEDA), has said the agency was poised to generate 30,000 jobs by 2020 through one of its programmes christened ‘Project 10+SME Challenge’. He disclosed this at an event organised by BYMEDA in Yenagoa to mark the 2018 World SME Day with the theme, ‘Youth Dimension’, which coincided with the agency’s Quarter 2 Dialogue Series. The Project 10+ SME Challenge is one of four programmes introduced by the agency aimed at promoting small and medium enterprises in the state and improving the local economy.
Eradiri gave an update on the Quarter 1 Dialogue Series saying, “In our efforts at pushing forward the frontiers of MSMEs, this dialogue provides us with the opportunity to identify factors militating operations and growth of the MSMEs.” Already, the agency had created about 4,000 businesses and 8,000 direct and indirect jobs via its loan scheme. The Director-General, who listed recoverability, profit generation and employment creation as major factors that determine granting of loans, said that loan repayment index in the state had risen to 62 percent up from near zero when the agency was established six years ago. He said loan repayment had remained a challenge but “it is far better than where we are coming from where we are coming from. The repayment culture is now 62 percent. They go to the banks themselves to pay.”
“Government investment is rooted in the understanding that micro, small and medium enterprises which generally employ no fewer than 250 persons are the backbone of most economies worldwide. “If we must promote and achieve Sustainable Development Goals, particularly in promoting innovation, creativity and decent work for all, small businesses are our only hope’’.
He said though repayment was slow, those empowered by the agency are repaying their loans, adding that the repayment also depended on the duration of such loans. He, however, lauded the administration of Governor Seriake Dickson for promoting small businesses even as the agency partners with international donor agencies and willing investors. In her remarks, Funkazi Koroye-Crooks, the Commissioner for Trade, Industry and Investment, said beneficiaries of the project would receive mentorship, free shops and equipment as part of the N500 million grants to young entrepreneurs by the administration. At the event, representatives of Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) and National Agency for Foods and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), in their goodwill messages, also encouraged young people on how they could access to finance and register their products.