By Our Correspondent
Cross River State Government, in collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), yesterday launched and disbursed the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development Fund (MSMEDF) to 700 enterprises in the state.
The disbursement exercise which was carried out in Calabar, the state capital, through the Cross River State Micro-finance and Enterprise Development Agency (MEDA) was the Phase one of the scheme which saw beneficiaries access a total of N1.4 billion of the N2billion fund.
Speaking at the ceremony, which took place at the Transcorp Hotel, Calabar, the state governor, Senator Liyel Imoke who expressed excitement at the level of participation of youths and women said: “Let me express my deepest appreciation to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan who has shown commitment to the growth of private sector, but most importantly, the development and growth of new generation of entrepreneurs.”
Imoke remarked that “This particular initiative which is designed to support the Small Micro and Medium Enterprise in our country can actually set the agenda for economic growth in Cross River and Nigeria at large.”
According to Imoke, “The President has demonstrated total commitment to the development of our youths through various initiatives which we have never seen in our country before. Some of them include the YOUWIN initiative, which of course, a few Cross Riverians have benefited.
“We have seen SURE-P and several other initiatives, but today, we have seen the actualization of the development of Micro, Small, Medium Enterprise Development Fund with the disbursement of this N2 billion.”
On the key role the Entrepreneurial Development Center (EDC) has played in educating the citizenry and developing their entrepreneurial capacity, the governor noted: “We went all out to secure a place for the CBN Entrepreneurial Development Center in the state because in our vision, we understood the potential of the center, knowing full well that it could be a catalyst for the growth and development of our private sector. Something we were in dire need of here in the state.”
Speaking on the benefit of the scheme, Governor Imoke disclosed: “Today, we are proud to said that our investment in the facility is yielding tremendous returns and I will thank my own team who have done unprecedented job in actualizing this dream, particularly MEDA that has impacted positively on the ordinary Cross Riverians.”
Lauding the critical role played by the CBN, the governor noted: “I will not forget the commitment of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele and his team for the excellent work and enthusiasm shown to grow the private sector in Cross River State after securing the slot of being among the first beneficiary states to access the fund.”
Governor Imoke encouraged others who were yet to visit the center to do so without delay, adding that “It is critical that we understand what the EDC is offering and take advantage of the center by ensuring that we fully participate in the various initiatives to better our lots by accessing the fund to grow our business capacities. As we disbursed this money, we hope and pray that out of this room, we will have new generation of entrepreneurs because of your commitment to your own success, and once you do that, nothing will stop us in getting more for other people.
“After this initial N2 billion, I want to assure you that Cross River will come back for more funds to grow its private sector, and direct the participating financial institution to show success while the beneficiaries must ensure judicious use of the fund.”
CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, who was represented by Mr. Graham Kalio, disclosed that the latest survey in the country indicated that there were about 17.3 million MSMEs in operation, noting that most of them were facing serious financial access challenges, with the gap put at N9.6 trillion.