Business recovery

Business recovery interventions SMEs should explore

POST-COVID business recovery interventions SMEs should explore in 2021

There is no gainsaying what the coronavirus pandemic did in global socio-economic realities. What is also irrefutable is that small business have been the worse hit amongst the victims’ rollcalls.

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Beyond the economic uncertainty challenging a sustainable business environment, there was also the ravaging impact of the pandemic on healthcare that slowed productivity, hampered manpower and piled pressure on the unemployment scourge.

A steadily rising inflation now peaked at over 18% in April 2021, coupled with an economy that dipped into recession and back, acerbated by violent civil unrest and insecurities that slowed pan-Nigerian logistics, the Nigerian small business proponents have experienced a perfect storm.

According to the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) remain critical to the country’s economy, contributing about 48% of the national GDP in the last five years and accounted for 84% of the national workforce.

Despite these contributions to the Nigerian economy, SMEs continue to face growth-hampering challenges such as lack of access to funding, skilled human resources, high cost of doing business, among others. These existing conditions already posit a challenging environment for SMEs to thrive; the pandemic’s entry into the equation will surely heighten their difficulties and slow their capacity to bounce back from this economic pandemic.

According to a survey by FATE Foundation and Budgit on the impact of COVID-19 on Nigerian on small businesses, 94.3% said the pandemic adversely disrupted their operations. 72.2% said the pandemic impacted their cash-flow; 67.8% said their sales went south, and 59.2% said their revenue took a hit.

In tackling what may be the most challenging global health and economic crises of our time, the instinctive response would expectedly tilt towards immediate needs such as health, food, security, and jobs. However, there is an urgent need to prioritise interventions for the SME sector – the backbone of major developing economies.

We have identified three existing business interventions that SMEs in Nigeria should leverage to recover from the pandemic’s overwhelming effect. These interventions and programmes include:

  • The Federal Government MSME Survival Fund: A couple of months ago, the FG launched the Survival Fund Programme targeted at individual artisans and small businesses. The Survival Fund Programme ( is part of the Economic Sustainability Plan, which aims to support and protect businesses from the potential vulnerabilities brought by the COVID 19 pandemic.The programme categorised into Payroll Support, Guaranteed Offtake, and MSME grant, is designed to provide a cushioning effect to business owners’ pain points. With the Payroll Support, business owners are assisted in paying employees; the Guaranteed Offtake helps businesses kickstart or rebuild, while the MSME Grant provided free funding for badly hit MSMEs. The programme is opened to any Nigerian with a running business (either registered or not registered).
  • LSETF MSME Loan Programmes: The Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) was established with a core mandate to tackle unemployment, promote job creation, entrepreneurship, and skills development in the state. The Loan Programme, one of its intervention vehicles, provides access to affordable funding for small business entrepreneurs. 


Working Conditions

Covid-19: Working Conditions Still Precarious

Covid-19: Despite Easing Lockdown, Working Conditions Of Nigerians Still Precarious-NBS

Despite the easing of Covid-19 lockdown, working conditions of most organisations have remained precarious as they battle the impacts of the covid-19 pandemic.

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According to the National Bureau of Statistics report titled, ‘COVID-19 impact monitoring report’ for November/December 2020, business activities in the non-farm enterprise sector suggests people’s working situations remain precarious.

Recall, as at July, 2020, Nigeria had completed the three phases of its gradual easing of the COVID-19 lockdown, with the reopening of airports for local flights.

The report showed that about 17 percent of households who had non-farm businesses during 2020 were not operating their business in December 2020.

It stated, “Of these, 61 per cent (11 per cent of all households with non-farm businesses) had also been closed for at least one month between June and November 2020.

“Moreover, just 23 per cent of households with non-farm businesses in 2020 operated them continuously since the peak of restrictions in April/May.”

It showed that the share of respondents who were working remained around pre-crisis levels in December 2020.

However, it stated that the agricultural sector has proved to be a resilient source of income for most Nigerians, as households involved in farming activities recorded increased income from crop sales in 2020/21 as food prices soar.

There was also an 80 percent increase in the share of households participating in crop-related farm work between the 2019 and 2020 agricultural seasons.


Manufacturing sector

Investment in Nigeria’s manufacturing sector down 76% on COVID-19

The Nigerian manufacturing sector is still reeling from the effect of COVID-19 as investment inflow into the sector declined by 76 percent in 2020, according to the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN)

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In its H2 economic review, MAN revealed that in 2020, manufacturing investments dropped to N118.52 billion representing a 76 percent decline when compared to the N496.11 billion achieved in 2019.

The decline was attributed primarily to the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic which disrupted economic activities globally and locally.

“Manufacturing investment declined in the period following the depressing fallouts from COVID-19 that gave no impetus for new investments in the sector,” the report states

According to MAN, in H1’2020, the sector recorded investment inflow of N62.08 billion, which was a 74 percent decline from the N248.45 billion achieved in H1 2019. In the second half of the year, investments further dipped by 78 percent to N56.44 billion from N257.66 billion realised in the same period of 2019.

The drop in investments also affected the overall performance of the sector, especially as many manufacturing firms were forced to either suspend or shut down operations during the period under review, thereby reducing the number of players in the sector.

“At the moment and following the impact of COVID-19 on productivity, the sector is at the lowest and therefore requires deliberate action to rekindle significant productive activities” the report added.

Emanating from China, the world’s manufacturing powerhouse and Nigeria’s largest trading partner, especially for manufacturing inputs, the COVID-19 pandemic caused an abrupt stop in the supply of raw materials, goods, tools, and machinery for manufacturing companies which forced many of them to suspend business operations.

Furthermore, Brent crude oil which serves as the major provider of the country‘s FX experienced a historic fall during this period, reaching a two-decade low in April at $15.98 a barrel. This drop triggered the prevailing FX shortage and also caused the naira to be greatly devalued thereby impeding the procurement operations of local manufacturers.

Consequently, after two years of consecutive growth, the sector glided to a negative terrain in 2020 with -2.75 percent, which is also the worst experienced since 2016 when the Nigerian economy entered into recession according to the GDP data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). The sector’s contribution to GDP as well dropped to 8.99 percent in full-year 2020 as against the 11.64 percent it achieved in 2019.

Furthermore, with Nigeria ranking 131st out of 190 countries surveyed on the 2020 World Bank’s ease of doing business index, business experts assert that due to the recurrent challenges in Nigeria’s business environment and insecurity challenges, investors are forced to take flight for the proverbial greener path, scaring away prospective investors.

Experts, however, believe that investment inflow will improve in the medium to long term following the partial border reopening and the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)

“The reopening of the land borders should provide succor to the manufacturing sector even as the kick-off of AfCFTA serves as an avenue for manufacturers to penetrate new African markets and for investors to flood the market” Jide Babatope, Lagos-based analyst said.

Beyond the decline in investments, manufacturers suffered a decline in the volume of demand for causing an uptick in the inventory of unsold goods. This is also coming amid the surge in production and operations cost.

MAN revealed that the inventory of unsold manufactured goods in the sector increased by 44 percent to N577.61 billion in 2020 from N402.42 billion recorded in 2019.

In H1’2020, inventory of unsold goods stood at N275.39 billion and it increased significantly to N303.22 billion in the second half of the year.


MSME Capital

MSMEs: Deepening access to capital…

Deepening access to capital for Nigerian MSMEs during a pandemic

While Nigeria has, so far, seemingly been spared the public health onslaught created by COVID-19, the country has not escaped the urgent economic crisis created by the pandemic.

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Worse, hardest hit have been the micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), whose operations are largely traditional and dependent on physical contact with their consumers and partners.

Over 40 million MSMEs exist in Nigeria, employing over 80 percent of the country’s population and contributing about 50 percent of the country’s GDP. Now, the biggest threat to the survival of these businesses central to the economy lies in their physical approach to interacting and transacting, which has left them unprepared to take advantage of the opportunities offered by digitization as well as vulnerable to the lockdowns and distancing measures intended to stave off the health crisis.

Financial exclusion—especially among micro-entrepreneurs in the informal sector— was a national concern even before COVID-19 made in-person interactions hazardous. To address this issue, prior to the pandemic (as far back as 2017, in fact), large-scale microcredit interventions such as the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Program—in which the Bank of Industry (BOI) participates—have been targeting four economic segments—market traders, artisans, youth, and farmers—for increased financial inclusion. Technology has been key: By leveraging the power of data, biometrics, and mobile wallet systems, and with an extensive network of over 17,000 agents, BOI has been able to identify, target, and deliver micro-credit to over 2.4 million MSMEs across Nigeria. Remarkably, over 52 percent of the beneficiaries are female. In the process, the bank has onboarded an additional 500,000 beneficiaries onto the formal financial system—essentially using technology to break the barrier of access to finance and financial services for underserved demographics.

At the onset of the pandemic, our bank’s immediate objective was to ensure business continuity by deepening our MSME activities through the provision of innovative lending solutions to new customers. Through our microcredit platform, BOI’s agent network—spread across the country—operate as proxies enabling beneficiaries to efficiently interact with technology and have their businesses captured and digitized in records. These agents, equipped with smartphones loaded with the bank’s data-driven applications, engage informal entrepreneurs by capturing their Know-Your-Customer details, profiling their business, tracking transaction histories, and monitoring income and spending patterns—thus providing financial solutions tailor-made to boost financial literacy, improve credit worthiness, and support their micro-businesses with funds, especially during these difficult times.



First trade deficit in 4yrs as COVID hurts exports

Nigeria records first trade deficit in 4yrs as COVID-19 hurts exports

Africa’s largest oil producer posted a N7 trillion trade deficit in 2020, with exports falling as much as 35 percent, according to data published, Tuesday by the National Bureau of Statistics.

For the first time in four years, Nigeria’s trade position was negative in 2020 as the pandemic crushed oil demand and sent the revenues of oil exporting countries tumbling.

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Africa’s largest oil producer posted a N7 trillion trade deficit in 2020, with exports falling as much as 35 percent, according to data published, Tuesday by the National Bureau of Statistics.

That compares to a surplus of N2.23 trillion recorded in 2019, with imports outweighing the county’s value of export.

A trade deficit occurs when a country’s imports exceed its exports during a given time period.

When that happens, the said country is denied the gains of foreign exchange which comes from the exports of commodities to other trading countries.

The huge trade deficit largely explains why Nigeria’s naira ran into troubled waters last year as Africa’s most populous nation was starved of the needed foreign exchange that would have helped in the accretion of the external reserves, and give monetary authorities the legroom to defend the naira from falling against the dollar.

Nigeria’s trade balance stood at N32.4 trillion with imports rising 17.32 percent to N19.9 trillion in 2020 from the N16.96 trillion in 2019, while exports fell 34.75 percent to N12.5 trillion from N19.2 trillion in 2019.

The last time the country witnessed a deficit in its trade was in 2016, when a collapse in the oil market and a restiveness back home in the Niger Delta region, slowed the growth of oil exports, the country’s biggest export commodity.

At that time, Nigeria recorded a deficit of N290 billion.



CBN extends forbearance for intervention loans by another 12 months

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has announced an extension of its regulatory forbearance for the restructuring of its intervention facilities by another 12 months.

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In a circular signed by Dr. Kevin Amugo, the Director of Financial Policy and Regulatory. the apex bank said it will continue to charge its borrowers an interest rate of 5% per annum as against the 9% originally offered.

The CBN had on March 20th reduced the interest rates on its intervention loans from 9% to 5% as part of its response to the economic crunch brought on by Covid-19 induced lockdowns.

The banking sector regulator also offered to rollover moratorium granted on all principal payments on a case by case basis. All credit facilities had been granted a one-year moratorium starting from march 1, 2020 when the pandemic first gripped Nigeria.

Below is excerpt from the circular:

“The Central Bank of Nigeria reduced the interest rates on the CBN intervention facilities from 9% to 5% per annum for one-year effective March 1, 2020, as part of measures to mitigate the negative impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on the Nigerian economy.”

Credit facilities, availed through participating banks and OFIs, were also granted a one-year moratorium on all principal payments with effect from March 1, 2020.

Following the expiration of the above timelines, the CBN hereby approves as follows:
1) The extension by another twelve (12) months to February 28, 2022 of the discounted interest rate for the CBN intervention facilities;

2) The roll-over of the moratorium on the above facilities shall be considered on a case by case basis.


Covid Vaccine

COVID-19 vaccines arrive in Nigeria

In line with the Global effort to exterminate the novel coronavirus disease which took the world by storm, the World Health organizations, have begun to send vaccines across the nations of the earth, to ensure that all are vaccinated from the deadly disease.

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Nigeria has received nearly four million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, shipped from the COVAX Facility, a partnership between CEPI, Gavi, UNICEF, and WHO.

COVAX shipped 3.94 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, arrived from Mumbai to Abuja around 11.30 am.“Nigeria has just received the first batch of Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID—19 vaccine,” presidential aide Bashir Ahmad tweeted.

According to a statement from the United Nations in Nigeria, the arrival marked a historic step towards the goal to ensure equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines globally and also the first wave of the distribution.

UN Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, said, “The UN Country Team in Nigeria reiterates its commitment to support the vaccination campaign in Nigeria and help contain the spread of the virus.

“The arrival of these vaccines in Abuja today marks a milestone for the COVAX Facility in its
unprecedented effort to deliver at least 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines globally by the end of 2021.”

The National Primary Health Care Development Agency had said it would commence the vaccination of Nigerians in priority groups, starting with frontline healthcare workers.

“This is a landmark moment for the country and the COVAX Facility’s mission to help end the acute phase of the pandemic by enabling equitable access to these vaccines across the world. We are glad to see Nigeria is amongst the first to receive the doses from COVAX.

Thanks to the excellent level of preparedness put in place by the Government of Nigeria,” Managing Director for Country Programmes at Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Thabani Maphosa, added.

“Gavi looks forward to these vaccines being made available to the people most at risk, as soon as possible, and to ensuring that routine immunization services for other life-threatening infections are also delivered to avoid other disease outbreaks.”

Dr. Walter Kazadi Mulombo, WHO Representative in Nigeria, said, “It is heart-warming to witness this epoch-making event and WHO wishes to congratulate the government of Nigeria for its participation in the global vaccine collaboration (COVAX) efforts and its commitment to protecting Nigerians against this pandemic.