GEM grant beneficiaries lament delay in release of funds

Ife Ogunfuwa

About 150 beneficiaries of the Growth and Employment project have lamented the delay in disbursement of their grants.

The beneficiaries, who were accepted into the Fast Track II category of the initiative, said the programme that was supposed to last for six months had lasted for 24 months, since 2016, with no end in sight.

The Growth and Employment project, which is supported by the World Bank, implemented by the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment with PricewaterhouseCoopers serving as grant administrator and KPMG as project monitor, will close in September 2018.

The project focuses on manufacturing and service sectors, and specifically supports Information Communication Technology, entertainment, tourism and hospitality, light manufacturing and construction.

Speaking with our correspondent, the beneficiaries, led by Christopher Egbule, said they had gone through the various stages of the initiative, from the application, to the induction, interview and inspection of business premises.

According to him, the grant, which ranges from $10,000 to $40,000, is expected to be disbursed in two tranches after attaining certain milestones: the first tranche three months after submitting the grant memo and the second after three months of procuring some business tools.

Egbule said that none had been disbursed even after completing the first milestone as stipulated in the grant memo.

He said the latest activity was an inspection of the business premises of beneficiaries to access production process, viability, financial plan, staff strength and other issues relating to the business in March 2018.

“As of today, no information has been given from the GEM administrators and implementers. The whole scheme was expected to lapse within six months from induction to disbursement but the scheme as taken up to 24 months with no hope of it being concluded,” he said.

In response to media enquiries, the Strategy and Communications Adviser, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Bisi Daniels, explained that the project had not been stopped, and facilitators were still committed to helping the Micro Small and Medium Enterprises attain their full potential in Nigeria.

However, he said project sponsors were considering extending the deadline for the completion of the initiative and increasing the funds.

“The GEM project is on course to continue delivering the necessary assistance to the MSMEs to achieve their potential. It has not been stopped. Indeed, the success of the programme in developing the MSMEs at various stages of growth is now making the project sponsors to consider increasing the amount of funds available and extending the initial project end,” he stated.

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Source: Punch News


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