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Government assures SMEs of support

By Oluwatosin Areo
28 November 2017   |   4:10 am
The Federal Government has assured of its unflinching support for the growth and development of the Small and Medium Enterprise (SMEs) in the country.

Hajia Aisha Abubakar

The Federal Government has assured of its unflinching support for the growth and development of the Small and Medium Enterprise (SMEs) in the country.

The Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Hajiya Aisha Abubakar, said that the government in diversifying the economy has put in place laws and financial aids to ensure SMEs thrive.

Abubakar at the maiden Nigeria SME Connect with focus on Collaboration and Access to Foreign Markets added that the Federal government, in a bid to ensure growth of the economy has released the compendium of incentives required by the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN).

The event which was convened by a Media and Investment Bridge Company – Footprint to Africa, and SMEDAN was sponsored by Bosch, Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF), and Diamond Bank.

Abubakar who noted that agriculture added 3.6 per cent to the economy in the third quarter of 2017, said it is a good indication that the manufacturing and service sector has good prospect if leveraged on.

“In a bid to trigger economic growth in the non-oil sector, the nation had to go through a painful but indispensable period of recession as the dwindling oil revenue provided the nation a requisite opportunity to look inwards.

“Just as Nigeria is out of recession, we need to be more focused on the non-oil sector which holds a better future for the country.”

Convener of the SME Connect and President of Footprint to Africa Limited, Osita Oparaugo, said the collaboration was to create a networking platform and promote intra African trade and foreign investment opportunities to entrepreneurs in a bid to increase output.

“The world is driven by SMEs. This networking goes beyond access to the market. It is to expose business owners to profit and skills management and set Nigeria on the right track,” he added.

He said that Footprint to Africa would add its own quota by helping SMEs bridge business gap between foreign investors and opportunities in Africa.

“In today’s economy, collaboration and exports are germane. That is, to connect small and medium scale business owners with viable partners so as to further their business goals and expand their operations and reach beyond Nigeria shores,” he said.

Oparaugo noted that access to funds and poor skills management are major challenges faced by small and medium enterprises.

“Capacity building and profit management is vital to any business survival. These are some of the values that investors look out for before pulling resources together for any business,” he emphasised.

Oparaugo urged enterprises to keep proper records of their business growth, adding that such records helps in fiscal planning and investments.

On the present government agenda towards promoting SMEs, Special Adviser, Trade and Investment, Dr. Jumoke Oduwole said the government will scale up on efficiency and transparently so as to ensure business growth and development.

“The present administration is providing a private enabling business environment with appropriate policies, infrastructure and information technology to identify with SMEs,” she added.

The World Bank recently ranked Nigeria 145th position out of 190 countries in the Ease of Doing Business report titled, “Doing Business 2018: Reforming to create jobs after carrying out numerous reforms to improve its business environments.

Adding that 80 percent SMEs contribute to the employment in the country and provides 50 per cent return to the nation Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Oduwole noted that it helped in the inflation reduction from 18.7 per cent to 16 per cent in October.

“Government has now leveraged on the use of information and technology to save time and money in tax payment, business registration, even access to loans.

Noting that access to credit is critical to economic growth and is considered to be the motor for driving private sector development, she said that two bills had been signed into law so as to give easy access to credit facility for Nigerians.

“Accessing loan is now easier with the Secured Movable Property Act 2017 (otherwise known as Collateral Registry Act) and the Credit Reporting Act 2017.

“The Collateral Registry Act ensures that Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in Nigeria can register their movable assets such as motor vehicles, equipment and accounts receivable in the National Collateral Registry, and use same as collateral for accessing loans. This in turn will increase their chances at accessing financing and tackle one of the major obstacles faced by MSMEs.

“On the other hand, ‘The Credit Reporting Act’ provides for credit information sharing between Credit Bureaus and lenders (such as banks), as well as other institutions that provide services on credit such as telecommunication companies and retailers,” she added.

Oduwole urged entrepreneurs to understand their business capacity building and keep profiting record to enable investors support in the necessary ways.

Director General, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), Dr. Dikko Umaru Badda has urged SMEs to use digital marketing, especially the social media to connect and network with business prospects

This, he added holds the key to the development of the nation’s SMEs.

Badda said that the Industrial Development Centres (IDCs) would be converted to cluster groups and would function in the six geo-political zones in the country.

“IDCs are workshops created by the federal government to train and develop middle level manpower in woodwork and metalwork for our industries. This is government’s strategy to complement technical manpower deficiency in the industrial axis of the economy.

“This is what informed the decision of SMEDAN to convert these IDCs to cluster parks. A cluster park is where several groups of similar vocations are assembled together under one roof to run their businesses. The advantages are that it makes them easily accessible by the customers, they can come together to form cooperative society and benefit from financing and other incentives,” he added.