The Nigerian Government has launched an Online Platform (Business Innovation and Growth a.k.a BIG) to execute a $160 million World bank assisted growth and employment programme.
The inauguration of platform and fund was done by the Minister of Trade, Industry and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah on Tuesday, along with the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Mr. Rachid Benmessaoud.
The online vehicle, BIG, represents the main channel through which the Growth and Employment (GEM) assistance is expected to be made available to micro small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in order to stimulate economic activities in critical non-oil sector areas.
According to the Minister, the initiative, which has a three-year-implementation time frame, would among other things, help to open up the nation’s economic space to more players, particularly small business operators.
He stated that “One of the challenges we have, which is well documented, is our ranking in the ease of doing business; it is depressing to know that Nigeria is ranked 169th of 189. And we have told the World Bank what exactly are the issues. So I am very confident that as unsatisfactory as it is, it is not going to be business as usual. So we are going to see a new Nigeria, you are going to see us working together in the mirror to see our country rise.”
Mr. Rachid Benmessaoud, concurred by saying that the project would not only help to complement the nation’s industrialisation efforts, but also assist the present administration’s drive to boost Job Creation.
He added that: “The Growth and Employment Project is a major initiative aimed at stimulating job creation through the growth of specific, high potential, non-oil sectors. It will make resources available to help address some of the key constraints identified by business, with a particular emphasis on MSMEs, which are widely regarded as a vital engine for growth and job creation.”
The World Bank Country Director further explained that MSMEs operating under the GEM sectors throughout the country would be invited to register on the BIG platform through its dedicated website as part of modalities for accessing the funds.”
“They will apply and be screened and if they meet the required criteria, will be given access to high quality training and capacity building. If they pass through the training phase successful, they may become eligible to apply for grants. Grants will be offered through various grant windows designed around the differing needs of individual businesses, consult is of businesses, and investors”.
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