The real  startups sector has long been considered a crucial  part of any economy, a sector that’s predominantly driven by micro, small and medium scale (MSMEs) businesses.

Also, considering the growing impact of technology-enabled businesses (startups) in Nigeria, it is sensible for the govt to supply them with support, especially those at the first or mid-stage and for budding innovators.

Encouraging signs were seen last year when the financial institution of Nigeria (CBN) introduced loans for graduates who are software developers to help them within the development of their products.

In a sweeping change to Nigeria’s taxing regime, in January 2020, President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Finance Act into law a move which will exempt early-stage startups, with revenues of ₦25 million annual revenue from pay taxes.

startups, MSMEs fund
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC)

During a gathering with the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), the office of the vice chairman announced a $20 million (₦7.32 billion) technology fund for young innovators, approved by the Bank of Industry (BoI).

Also, the vice chairman announced that the financial institution of Nigeria (CBN), is offering a $248 million (₦90 billion) soft loan facility for little scale agricultural enterprises.

The vice chairman insists that though MSMEs are small in units, collectively, they account for 50% of the country’s GDP. Thus, support in terms of finance, speedy product registration and certification would be important.

While this seems to be a laudable initiative, Nigeria’s history with the disbursement of public funds has been but stellar.

Still  fresh in our memories is the Aso Villa Demo Day (AVDD) saga, a startup/SME initiative under the Office of the vice chairman of Nigeria, that was meant to empower startups with innovative solutions to local challenges.

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However, the eventual aftermath was a confusing and questionable mess that’s still shrouded in secrecy to the present day.

It’s our hope that this commendable initiative won’t go the way of all other similar projects that didn’t see the sunshine of day, or had its funds diverted.


 

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