Principal Associate and Senior Economist Dr. Thomas Timberg talked about the Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprise (MSME) Nigeria project in an interview in Economic Indicators, a publication of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group. NESG promotes dialogue between private and public sector leaders about the direction of Nigeria’s economic development.
Team leader of the MSME project management unit, Dr. Timberg answered questions about the purpose and outcomes of the MSME project. He sketched out the three elements of the project—access to finance, investment climate, and business development services—and the status of activities for each. Dr. Timberg distinguished among the varying needs of the different sizes of firms. MSMEs, although often grouped together, do not make up a single category with the same problems to which a single solution applies. Dr. Timberg gave examples of the grants the project has provided—to microfinance institutions that lend to microenterprises and to firms providing business training for medium-sized firms.
Interviewers expressed particular interest in the project’s implementation of best practices from elsewhere in the world, especially Africa. Dr. Timberg explained that for the access to finance and investment climate elements, the project is implementing best practices from among abundant experience throughout the world. For business development services, however, “the state of the art is still under development,” Dr. Timberg said. He explained that in this category the project aims more to contribute to international knowledge sharing through the project’s extensive monitoring and evaluation.
Monitoring and evaluation are such an important part of the MSME project because it is a pilot project in three of Nigeria’s 36 states. The Nigerian government and the project’s funding agency, the World Bank, hope to determine what initiatives will work in Nigeria so that the successful ones can be duplicated in other areas of the country.