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Fair to leverage technology, innovation for SME development

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SMEs

Connect Nigeria has announced plans to expose and equip thousands of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to social and technological innovation to grow their businesses.

The Chief Executive Officer, Connect Nigeria, Emeka Okafor, explained that lack of access to fund is not the only hurdle hindering the growth of the SME sector but operators’ unfamiliarity to social and technological know-how to grow businesses in today’s tech-driven world.

According to Okafor at a press briefing to herald its 2019 edition Business Fair themed ‘grow global’, scheduled to hold on April 26th and 27th 2019, at the Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS), Lagos, the Nigerian economy is expected to grow by N1.5 billion with over 15,000 people expected to attend the annual exhibition.

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He added that the technology-driven commerce and business-enabling platform is set to use the fair to aid access to required skills and partnerships for SMEs in the country, Africa and the rest of the world.

He noted that the event would also feature key players in the economic, social and technology sectors in attendance and key note speeches will be delivered, as well as an interactive panel session.

“Some of the key speakers are Co-Founder, So Fresh limited, Mrs. Abimbola Balogun; Chief Executive Officer, Farmcrowdy limited, Onyeka Akumah; Co-Founder, Platform NG, Mrs. Uju Obuekwe; Managing Director, SB Telecoms, Afolabi Abiodun, and General Manager, Win-Win Kitchen Limited, Mrs. Florence Opawoye among others,” he said.

He also pointed out that the fair would also feature dedicated master-classes that will be facilitated by pioneers in various industries, with hundreds of businesses exhibiting their products and services.

Okafor said: “Participants can explore the many business prospects available while entrepreneurs can learn the skills they need to grow their businesses in today’s tech-driven world. Taking part in the Exhibition positions participants as a reputable brand, because their goods and or services will be displayed, alongside brands from reputable companies.

“No product or service is off limits; participants should ensure the packaging is presentable. Over the years, there have been products and services ranging from banking solutions to Fashion & Beauty, Catering services, Real Estate, Online Marketing hubs, Telecoms, ICT solution Providers, Booksellers, and Media Houses among others.”

The Connect Nigeria helmsman, who stated that there will be a segment specifically for ‘Made In Nigeria’ goods including handcraft, added that the fair is dedicated to promoting business for SMEs, assisting Nigerian businesses achieve global competitiveness, empowering thousands of business owners, start-ups, and aspiring entrepreneurs, enabling them to fast-track the growth of their businesses by leveraging the power of technology.

Also speaking at the event, Chairman, Lagos chapter, Nigerian Association of Small-Scale Industrialists, Kuti George, lauded the efforts of Connect Nigeria for being a consistent and dependable partner in the promotion of businesses for SMEs and enabling them to fast-track the growth of their businesses.

According to the Head Marketing & Strategy, Rack Centre, Mrs Ejieke Maduka Ezeadiugwu who was also present at the parley, lauded the organizers of the Business Fair stating that equipping SMEs with the necessary technology and entrepreneurial skills as obtainable at the business fair sets the economy up for industrialisation, poverty alleviation, youth development, Foreign Direct Investment generation and SME development.

She said: “I urge the federal government to boost its capacity, competence, and legitimacy to mobilise and interact with all stakeholders, thereby creating an attractive investment climate for businesses to succeed in Nigeria.”

Director-General, Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce, Mrs. Joyce Akpata, who was also at the event, explained that other skills most Nigerian SMEs lack are their inability to clearly define roles and responsibilities, separate ownership and management of the entity and preparation of financial records among others.

She said, “The necessary reforms will open the way for public-private partnerships, which can provide investment for infrastructure development and maintenance. Government should facilitate cooperation with other international organisations and development finance institutions that can provide additional funds, while helping countries like Nigeria upgrade its productive capacity.”


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