Cameroon’s Ministry of Small and Medium Size Enterprises has selected 720 small businesses to benefit from the economic and financial resilience programme aimed at supporting businesses affected by the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The selected small businesses and artisan enterprises would receive a share of the two billion FCFA (about US$4 million), which is part of the amount allocated to the Ministry of Small and Medium Size Enterprises from the 180 billion FCFA (about US$360 million) National Solidarity Fund for the Fight Against the Coronavirus.
According to sources in the Ministry of Small and Medium Size Enterprises, the choice of the small businesses to benefit from the COVID-19 economic and financial resilience programme followed equitable and rigorous conditions of eligibility set forth by the ministry and is not the only financial assistance accorded to the ministry by government.
In effect, within the context of the economic and financial resilience programme, several small and medium-size enterprises would receive assistance through other ministerial departments, which are also beneficiaries of allocations from the National Solidarity Fund for the Fight Against the Coronavirus.
The total amount made available to the ministry, according to reliable sources, is estimated at 32.7 billion FCFA (about US$65 million).
The Inter-patronal Group of Cameroon popularly known by its French acronym GICAM, reveals that 61 per cent of Cameroonian small and medium-size enterprises have been “very negatively affected” by the coronavirus pandemic.
However, in spite of the insistence by the Ministry of Small and Medium Size Enterprises that the selection of the 720 small businesses to benefit from the ministerial allocation was “equitable and rigorous”, many are the thousands of small businesses in Cameroon whose proprietors have expressed dissatisfaction with the “catimini way in which the exercise was carried out”.
“Very little publicity was made to enable all the small businesses that qualified to apply to know what to do as well as where and when to deposit their applications,” declared an orange juice bottler in Akwa Douala, who elected for anonymity because of fear her outfit could be closed down if she identified herself.
“We are only hearing now that they have already selected hundreds of small businesses to receive assistance.”
“Of course, one cannot be surprised by what has happened because it is the Cameroonian way. Money intended for a section of the national commonwealth is shared among cronies and family members.,