Jonathan flagged off the disbursement of the fund in Abuja today while declaring open, the 8th annual MSME finance conference themed "MSME Financing in Nigeria: Past, Present and Future".
The conference was organised to look at the MSME finance sub-sector from a holistic perspective. 60 percent of the fund is said to have been set aside for providing financial services to women in order to address their peculiar financial exclusion circumstances.
The guidelines of the Fund stipulate that each state of the federation will be able to access N2 billion which will be administered to beneficiaries at an interest rate of nine percent.
Jonathan said as part of measures to enhance the contributions of MSME to economic growth, he Federal Government would establish a one-state development finance institution that would provide long term funds up to 15 years for industrial development.
The president assured that the existing development finance institutions would be restructured for better performance and increased access to finance by the MSME.
Jonathan noted that in view of the enormity of the task of making MSME viable, he was kick-starting the disbursement of the fund to participating financial institutions and state governments for onward lending to MSME across the country.
He expressed optimism that the governors at the conference would their special plenary session to showcase their efforts towards promoting inclusive growth through micro-credit delivery, poverty reduction, job creation and economic empowerment.
The president maintained that Nigerians must be provided with an opportunity to live a better and more productive life
Earlier, the Minister of Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga said small businesses accounted for about half of the Nigeria's Gross Domestic Products (GDP).
Aganga, however, lamented that over the years, the sub-sector had not received enough attention.
According to the minister, only eight percent of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in the country has access to financing.
He said the launch of the N250 billion MSME Development Fund facility represented a bold statement by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) that it was committed to developing small businesses in the country.