The Enugu State Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, SMEs, success story cannot be complete without acknowledging the substantial role played by a committed and hardworking man; a man who is passionate about welfare of the youth and making sure that they have something doing in the society, Hon. Arinze Chilo Offiah, the Special Adviser to the Governor of Enugu State on SME Development, and Head of the Enugu State SME Center.
In line with the mandate of the governor of the state, His Excellency, Chief Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi in facilitating development of SMEs, Hon. Chilo-Offia has continuously offered himself as a frontier for the state’s development with his numerous trailblazing projects in the SMEs since his assumption of office in 2019.
Identifying unemployment as one of the problems that needed to be surmounted in Enugu State, this Northeast University, Boston trained financial expert is of the view that the best way to overcome unemployment in the state is to set up Micro and Medium Scale Businesses, hence he fronted over 15 successful Skill Acquisition Programs in partnership with some private sectors. The beneficiaries of these programs have gone on to build impressive Startups.
“By helping the unemployed and underemployed become business owners, and developing SMEs, the state will definitely thrive,” he said in one of the interviews he granted the media.
Despite the negative impact of the coronavirus on budding businesses globally Nigeria inclusive, Enugu State crossed a milestone by becoming one of the top 5 startup ecosystems in Nigeria, and was ranked 978th globally. World most comprehensive startup ecosystem map and research centre, StartupBlink, couldn’t have been wrong about these rankings – Enugu could become the 1st state in the Southeast of Nigeria to make it to the top 5 ecosystems in Nigeria, leaving 31 states behind. All these are result of an experienced financial expert and banker who used his experience at America Insurance Group and Bank of America, Merrill Lynch to transform the Enugu SMEs sector thereby making it one of the leading states in SMEs development and skill acquisition programmes in the country.
When the state government received its share of the COVID-19 Survival Fund – grant meant to support defenseless SMEs in fulfilling their mandate during the pandemic, and protecting employment within the Micro, Small, and Medium-Sized Enterprises, the pioneer Executive Director of Anambra State Developmental Agency, make sure was a given to the deserving sectors, few are his type in the country.
For the Artisan Support Grant, his special focus was on youth artisans within the age range of 18 to 38. This constituted a one-off payment of ₦20,000 to ₦30,000.
500,000 individual beneficiaries were targeted for the Payroll Support Program which paid between 3 to 10 staff the sum of ₦30,000 to ₦50,000 for three months.
These programmes succeeded in reserving employment and uphold local production.
Hon. Chilo-Offiah also did the same for the Transportation Sector and has been launching more programs to improve the general productivity of the state.
The successful CAC Business Name Registration for over 6,000 Startups has finally made a reflection in lunging Enugu forward and putting the State on the global map.
All these are just few of the many success stories of Hon Arinze Chilo-Offia who has used his wealth of experience to turn the SMEs sector around in Enugu State and by extension Enugu State Government.