By Amaka Agwuegbo
The difficulties encountered in building capacity in the hitherto neglected small, medium enterprises, SMEs, sector may soon be a thing of the past with the planned introduction of a compendium of all SMEs in the state by the Lagos State Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
Speaking during the courtesy visit of participants of the Certificate in Enterprise Management (CEM) of the Enterprise Development Service (EDS) of the Pan_African University to the Ministry, the Commissioner, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Hon. Prince Adeniyi Oyemade, said the compilation of the proposed Yellow Pages on SMEs would further help develop the sector by enabling the Ministry organize training sessions for them.
â€œThe informal sector, which is unaccounted for and forms about 70 per cent of commerce and industry, makes the economy tick by generating over N7 billion.
â€œIn order to further develop the informal sector, we are coming up with Yellow Pages, a directory for SMEs that will give us an idea of the number of SMEs operating in the informal sector which will enable government build training schools for them.
â€œSince the Yellow Pages would advertise and promote them, we would, indirectly be reducing the human traffic at the Ministry because people would be able to pick up the directory and call up whomever they want to work for them.
â€œTo achieve the compilation the Yellow Pages, the services of undergraduates would be engaged to collate data from SMEs in all nooks and crannies of the state.â€
Continuing, the Commissioner, Oyemade, said the neglected SME sector has been given a voice in government which has led to the formation of three major SMEs associations in the Ministry.
â€œWe have been standing in the gap for these SMEs by guaranteeing them loans of up to N500,000. This is because we equally want to promote them by giving them a comfortable medium to grow in.
â€œAlso, structured and favourable policies that would help Nigerian SMEs grow and impact positively on the economy.â€
Oyemade revealed that the State Ministry of Commerce and Industry will, in the nearest future, capture dead assets of SMEs which they could use as collateral for seeking loans from financial houses.
â€œA lot of small business owners are sitting on assets which they consider dead, but could be freed up and used to collaterise their bank loans.â€
Commenting on the freeing up of dead assets, the Director, Enterprise Development Service (EDS), Mr. Peter Bamkole, said the dead assets, no matter how small, would go a long way in boosting the capabilities of SMEs.
Speaking on the establishment of industrial parks, the Commissioner, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Hon. Prince Adeniyi Oyemade, said the parks would afford indigenous business owners the opportunity of having a common area of operation.
An industrial park is an area zoned and planned for the purpose of industrial development. They are usually located outside the main residential area of a city and are normally provided with good transportation access.
This enables government to concentrate dedicated infrastructure in a delimited area to reduce the per_business expense of that infrastructure; attract new business by providing an integrated infrastructure in one location; and to provide for localized environmental controls that are specific to the needs of an industrial area.
According to the Commissioner, â€œThe industrial parks in Lekki, Ikorodu and Oto_Awori, would allow us place SMEs in same line of business to be in a common place and share energy, tools and materials.
â€œThis was further confirmed by the information we gathers in the course of interacting with small business owners who said the least of their problems was energy.
â€œAside allowing them share common facilities, the parks would also enable us control the standard of the goods and services produced, bring down cost of production and create available market for them by promoting them.
He, however, pointed out that the major the state is encountering with the running of the industrial estates, which first became in use in 1958, is refusal of occupants to move out of the parks after their 5 years incubation period.
â€œThe refusal of the business owners to move to the next stage has cost the government to build more industrial parks to allow more business owners benefit from the programme. â€œWithin their 5 years of staying in the park, the business owners are to apply for land allocation to the state government to enable them build their factories. But they have refused to do so because of the freebies they enjoy, thereby limiting the number of participants.