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Stakeholders task SMEs on competitive innovation 

By Benjamin Alade    |   04 May 2017   |   4:21 am

Ibukun Awosika

Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the country have been charged on the need to position their businesses as a global competitive alternative amidst the current economic recession.

They were also urged to take the unique advantage that the Nigerian market offers in growing their products and services by understanding the dynamics of pricing right, setting standards.

The advice was given during a symposium organised by First Bank of Nigeria Limited, in partnership with the Lagos Business School, themed, “Made in Nigeria: Driving Productivity and Competitiveness.”

The Chairman of the bank, Ibukun Awosika, said SMEs in Nigeria need to understand the dynamics of pricing right and must position as competitive alternative within a recession.

According to her, “There are markets opportunities that Nigeria SMEs can take that are unique to the Nigerian market by thinking creatively and innovatively. “SMEs must also understand the need to deliver value at the right price, by not under pricing or over pricing their products or services,” she said.

According to statistics, about 70 to 80 per cent of new businesses in Nigeria pack-up within the first three years. However, she opined that as technology help to guarantee efficiency and effectiveness, it also poses a challenge of social problem that we have to deal with.

Speaking further on the role of the government in creating a conducive business environment and ease of doing business, Awosika noted that currently, there is no pipeline to support creative capacity of Nigerians, adding, “But when you challenge people to think they will produce innovative solutions.”

She said there is an urgent need for the government to support SMEs in the areas of infrastructure to aid productivity.

The Director, Enterprise Development Centre, Pan Atlantic University (PAU), Peter Bankole,  in a paper titled, ‘Improving the National and Global Competitiveness of SMEs’, said growing SMEs demands deliberate action by government.

According to Bankole, Germany made a deliberate action to grow its SMEs and be competitive, and therefore urged SMEs and the government to have a mindset change towards competitiveness and financing.

Bankole noted that SMEs are good at innovative thinking, adding that Nigeria can build goodwill if it focused on specific industries like Nollywood, as a nation to deliberately tell the Nigerian story using art and the theatre as a vehicle to drive development and competitiveness of SMEs.

However, he opined that action is not driven only by policy; as there must be a deliberate plan to grow the small and medium sector in Nigeria.
Therefore, government must be the first buyer of made in Nigeria products through a deliberate action to grow the SMEs. “If you rely on food you do not produce, you cannot be competitive as a nation,” he concluded.




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