By Uzor Maxim Uzoatu
It is a measure of it’s laudable enterprise drive that Anambra State on Thursday, August 1, 2019, won the first prize in a national competition. At a ceremony led by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo at State House, Abuja, where the state was represented by Professor Solo Chukwulobelu, an economist and Secretary to the Government, Anambra State emerged the best supporter of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) in Nigeria.
Anambra State dusted all the other states of the country, with Lagos, Kaduna and Abia states as the runners up.
Governor Willie Obiano is as ever unrelenting in assuring that his administration cannot surrender its leadership in the MSME terrain. He has guaranteed to continue to lend even more support to all the spheres of the enterprises in the state.
For Governor Obiano who has his finger on the pulse of the pillars and enablers of a thriving Anambra economy, the coveted award would serve as a spur to do more in covering all the multiform dimensions of development in his state. The presidential plaque is one more proof that Anambra State is in fine fettle, and good stead, under the stewardship of Obiano.
The governor’s fervent support for MSMEs has been on the front burner from his first days in office. He understands that enterprises at the micro, small and medium levels account for a healthy state of affairs in the commonwealth. In Anambra State, as in other parts of the world, micro, small and medium enterprises are the biggest employers of labour. Governor Obiano readily assures that his administration has “perfected arrangements to access the N3.5bn MSME facility from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) that will be ploughed into the funding of MSMEs in the state.”
As things stand in Governor Obiano’s scheme, “Anambra has over 2000 cooperatives covering agriculture, manufacturing, trade and commerce and services.
“It is my intention to support the MSMEs more. We are getting about N3.5bn from the Central Bank, probably in the next few weeks that we are also going to use to support the people in this area, particularly for the growth of traditional species of livestock like cows, goats and fowls.
“Our farmers are pioneering things in these areas. It will go a long way to assist the attainment of food sufficiency that we have been talking about.”
It is quite obvious that Anambra State’s commanding exploits in MSME is as a result of Governor Obiano’s prescience in establishing the Anambra Small Business Agency (ASBA) that has been charged with financing frontally the entrepreneurial pursuits of the diverse businessmen and women of the state.
ASBA was set up in 2015 and has thus far provided over N2.5 Billion in single-digit funds to micro-enterprises and SMEs in the State. The agency has funded more than 10,000 businesses and created well over 70,000 direct and indirect jobs. This way, ASBA has empowered a great number of Anambra youths to become flourishing entrepreneurs. The sustenance of established SMEs in Anambra State remains assured.
The Governor Obiano administration has through ASBA disbursed about N1.2bn to MSMEs in the state. In the disbursement, industrialization and manufacturing took nearly half of the allotted sum at 49.69 percent while the agriculture value chain took 20.89 per cent. Trade and commerce garnered 11.42 percent while oil and gas took 7.75 percent.
ASBA also innovatively financed the US$2.2 Million (N800 Million) Shoe & Leather Products Industrial Cluster in Nkwelle Ezunaka through its “Enabling Local Cluster Development Scheme”.
The empowered shoemakers have through the intervention collectively reaped huge financial benefits. They have created trading linkages with buyers across sub Sahara Africa and crucially eliminated the debilitating influence of middlemen. It is ennobling to note that the shoemakers in the course of their undertakings generated impressive revenues in 2018 for the state.
Remarkably, due to the exemplary success of the shoemaking cluster, ASBA has since commenced the construction of a similar industrial cluster for textile and garments artisans, which is marked for completion by December 2019.
According to the Managing Director of ASBA, Chief Clement Chukwuka, “The two billion naira credit facility we obtained for micro enterprises development from CBN was extended to more than 450 persons. The micro credit facility had impacted positively on the socio-economic sector of the state. Even the big industries in Nnewi and Onitsha in Anambra equally felt the injection of the fund in the area. The success story of the agency in managing the micro-credit was due to the firm stand that the loan was not for political patronage. If Nigeria’s economy must get better, government schemes designed to strengthen the economy must be drawn in a way that the beneficiaries must strictly abide by the rules spelt out for the scheme.”
With the presidential seal of approval for Anambra State’s leadership in the MSME drive in Nigeria, Governor Obiano is poised to up the ante in turning Anambra to a veritable model of the Asian Tiger in Nigeria.
ASBA, as the brainchild of Governor Obiano, is the way to go.
This is a lesson to other sub-national governments in Nigeria.