Officials in Plateau State say they registered 100,000 businesses between 2015 and 2020, formalizing the sector for the first time in the State.
Over 60,000 of such businesses were trained and financed for enhanced performance, reducing unemployment, crime and insecurity in the State, Mr. Haggai Gutap, former Director General of Plateau Microfinance Development Agency (PLASMIDA) said, Friday.
Handing over to a new DG in Jos, Mr. Gutap said, “On assumption of office as the pioneer Director General of PLASMIDA (in 2015), the agency was able to study the environment on the Plateau, brought up practical solutions to addressing the unemployment, poverty and financial illiteracy that existed in the state and as a result, we (the agency) put up deliberate programmes among which was the Simon Lalong Empowerment Scheme (SLEMS).
“The SLEMS programme has three components: Skills acquisition, Entrepreneurship Development and training which has helped addressed the skills and knowledge that exist among entrepreneurs in the state.
“We have implemented this programme in 4 phases which has touched directly over sixty thousand (60,000) beneficiaries benefiting from this laudable intervention of government.”
Before the establishment of PLASMIDA in 2015, Plateau State Internal Revenue averaged N6.9bn despite high oil earnings, investigations show. A report by Premium Times on 15 April 2015 rated the State among 24, that performed poorly in Nigeria.
In 2020 however, the State made N19.12bn in revenue, despite Covid-19 lockdowns and related restrictions causing business crashes worldwide. This suggests a leap from a previous “civil service State”, Mr. Haggai said.
“The establishment and activities of PLASMIDA over the years has changed the narrative in Plateau, especially from an acclaimed civil service state to a business haven.
“PLASMIDA has developed skills, provided financial literacy, Entrepreneurship training, linkage to finance and markets and provided coaching and mentoring services to the esteemed entrepreneurs of the state,” Haggai said in an interview.
The agency, Haggai added has built networks with federal financing and regulatory agencies for increased access to credit, business formalization and easy registration.
During Covid-19, the agency disbursed MSME “survival fund” to over 38,000 business owners as Artisans/Transport grants, payroll support, Business formalization, Guaranteed Off take and General MSME grant, and is currently building a business database to further grow the sector, Haggai said.
The new DG of the Agency, Mr. Bomkam Wuyep told Journalists at the handing over ceremony that the agency expanding collaborations to improve access to finance, markets and related opportunities for local businesses.
The agency according to him is also considering a business training for civil servants to prepare them for retirement.
“Our focus is on addressing funding gaps of MSMES by linking them to sources of finance, increasing access to markets, increasing collaboration with Development Finance institutions like CBN, BOI, Commercial and Microfinance banks, liasing with relevant authorities to begin the Plateau Industrial Park and developing a package for Civil Servants towards improved financial literacy and preparations for retirement amongst other programmes,” Wuyep said.