Experts seek ease of conditions for accessing SMEs intervention funds
For Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), to contribute significantly to Nigeria’s economic growth, government must make conditions attached to accessing various intervention funds less stringent for operators in the sector.
The Group Managing Director, Investment One Financial Services Limited, Nicholas Nyamali, at the Investment One SMEs Forum, in Lagos, noting that government has various intervention programmes to support SMEs growth, advised that the stringent conditions for accessing them pose a great challenge for SME operators to benefit from these programmes.
He cited a condition where operators are required to provide banks as guarantor provision, noting that most of these SMEs are still at the infant level, and as such could not secure the confidence of financial institutions to stand as their sponsors.
“Across the globe, SMEs form the major part of economic growth. It is unfortunate that in developing world, we seem not to be giving enough attention to them. Our focus seems to be more on the larger companies, but for us to maximise economic growth, SMEs must play a major part.
“In Nigeria, we have people who are willing, but I think the government’s role is to provide enabling environment for them; people have identified different kinds of challenges – capital, infrastructure, and the business environment, so those issues need to be addressed so that SMEs will flourish.
“I commend this government on its initiative on the ease of doing business, but a lot still needs to be done. Over all, it is not a lack of willingness on the part of the operators; we have seen people who are extremely interested, they have great ideas, but unfortunately, the environment is not conducive for them to flourish so there is still more to do in the environmental point of view.
“The statistics from SMEDAN said over 17,000 SMEs exists in the country, and I do not think we have given the 17,000 all the support they need. Government has great programmes but the conditions are stringent.”
As a result, he said Investment One is focused on developing capabilities of managers of businesses, noting that good managerial ability would enable them make use of their capital in a more prudent manner.
Also speaking at the event, the immediate past Managing Director of Skyway Aviation Handling Company, Isaac Olorugbagbe, said government has good programmes for SMEs, but that the inability to extend these initiatives to the grassroots across the country is impeding SMEs growth.
“Interventions by government must be holistic and multi prolonged. Many small business owners are actually doing well given that the current business administration has recorded good successes in terms of ease of doing business.
“More interventions are required to further stimulate development al activities in the sector. Our small business need to become more than potential they need to be real engine of growth that has benefitted from an enabling environment such as policies and infrastructure.”
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