Over 3,675 micro, small and medium enterprises in Delta state will benefit from the Delta State World Bank Covid-19 Action Recovery Economic Stimulus Programme called the DELTA CARES programme.
Barrister Orezi Esievo, Executive Secretary in charge of Delta State Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency, made the disclosure to journalists in Asaba, the Delta state capital.
She said Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s administration is set to empower MSMEs in the state with grants as working capital to ameliorate the adverse effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on small businesses.
She said the vehicle of implementation is the Delta State Enterprise Empowerment Programme, DSEEP. This, according to her, is one of the empowerment strategies of the Delta state government to support small businesses in the state to thrive and boost the economy of Delta State.
Esievo explained that there are three disbursement link indicators for the MSMEs. They are subsidized loans, business grants and enhancing the capabilities of MSMES through IT. However, MSMEs would have to meet certain eligibility criteria to access the grant. Enumerators will be trained and despatched to the 29 constituencies in the state for verification of businesses.
MSME beneficiaries will cut across different areas ranging from ICT, agri-business and people in the creative industries. The government wants to create the enabling environment and give strategic support for small businesses to thrive.
She said though the governor of Delta state is reaching out to MSMEs through grants, there will be verification protocol to qualify for same. She listed some of the criteria to include registered business names, company or individual bank account, possession of a bank verification number (BVN), pay- roll for employees and length of years in business, among others.
Barrister Esievo encouraged small businesses to keep proper records and documentation of their transactions to enable them easily qualify. Esievo clarified that beneficiary amounts will depend on the kind of business the MSME operator is engaged in.
She said: “Enumerators will enumerate all businesses across the 25 local government areas. If you are selling garri, provisions, they will come there, capture you, your business and your trade and collated data and successful MSMEs will then be onboarded for funds disbursement. Other collaborative MDAs include the Ministry of Youth Development, Job creation office, Office of the girl-child and TVEB.
In the midst of all these, Barrister Esievo said the biggest challenge is the bureaucracy in government.
She said: “If the bureaucracy to clear files from one clearing house to another for the governor’s approval takes you six months, that year is gone. At the end of the day, you will be doing disservice to the governor because you cannot accomplish much. It is a function of all of us.
“I don’t even think we should be carrying files in 2020. Everything should be automated. That way you will hold people responsible. If I do a memo and send it to you electronically, and you keep it for weeks or months, of course, you will be accountable to the governor.
“So once you send an email, you can’t change the date. If it sits with the next officer or head of parastatal for more than 24 hours, the trail shows at a glance the defaulter. Trends like this will in turn affect your performance and promotion. Its a system of checks and balances.”
Esievo further explained that the Delta state government is committed to transforming the lives of small businesses, assuring MSMEs of a stronger Delta and a better tomorrow.