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‘Supporting SMEs is strategic to reflating economy’

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Mabogunje


With many businesses struggling to wade through the impact of COVID-19 and the aftermath of the EndSARS protests, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), and other stakeholders have advocated improved support and intervention for small businesses in reflating the economy.

According to them, it is also very crucial to facilitate discussions on strategies that would help position small and medium business operators for sustainable growth in the new normal.

LCCI President, Mrs Toki Mabogunje, during the yearly webinar of the SME Group themed, “Repositioning SMEs for growth in the new normal,” noted that small businesses account for as much as 50 percent to aggregate economic output and constitute about 96 percent of businesses in Nigeria.

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Mabojunje, who was represented by the Chamber’s Vice President, Leye Kupoluyi, said: “From employment perspective, SMEs are equally important by accounting for about 75 percent of employment in the country. They play a significant role by providing various goods & services, creating job opportunities, developing regional economies and communities, stimulating competition in the global market, and fostering innovation.

“However, SMEs have been unable to harness these tremendous potentials as the country’s operating environment characterized by high production costs, declining purchasing power, excessive regulations, high borrowing costs, policy uncertainties and poor trade facilitating infrastructure made it increasingly difficult for SMEs to survive, thrive and compete favourably with global peers.”

She noted that while interventions by the fiscal and monetary sides of the authorities are commendable, such efforts should be sustained.

The Commissioner, Lagos State Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Cooperative, Dr. Mrs. Lola Akande, acknowledged the impact of the new normal on many businesses, especially those in the entertainment, hospitality and tourism sectors.

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Akande, represented by a Director at the Ministry, Mrs Titilayo Adesina, said failure to bolster the vulnerable SMEs with necessary tools to overcome this new normal will lead to loss of employment, a reduction in the spending power of the average citizen, and ultimately, an exponential increase in poverty and insecurity.

While the government continues to work on its own end to cushion the effects of the hard times on businesses, she advised MSMEs to look inwards not just to survive but to also thrive in the ‘new normal’.

Akande identified the need to embrace optimisation, adaptation, innovation and collaboration as strategies to succeed in the COVID-19 environment and beyond.

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“Lagos State is particularly sensitive to its delicate position as the foremost economy of Nigeria with over 11,000 SMEs and 3,000,000 micro enterprises, the most of all the states. It has also been the hardest hit by the outbreak as the epicentre of the COVID pandemic in Nigeria.

“As such, the government of Lagos State has been proactive in ensuring that these ventures stay in business and continue to do so long after the pandemic. To this end, a number of existing schemes have been strengthened, modified and new measures taken by the State Government.

“We urge the industrious business men and women of this our beloved state to continue to optimize, adapt and innovate and by so doing secure their pride of place at the forefront of the new normal”, she added.

LCCI SME Group Chairman, Daniel Dickson-Okezie, stressed the need for businesses to brace for the new normal in order to remain relevant in the global economy, adding that despite the effect of the pandemic on the economic fortunes of many businesses, SMEs are determined to weather the storm and harness available opportunities.

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In this article:
LCCISMEs’Toki Mabogunje
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