By Emeka Anaeto & Moses Nosike
Federal government agencies and leading private sector organizations are stepping up collaborative actions for improving operating environment in the nation’s Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, MSME, space.
The stakeholders who converged at the second policy dialogue series on entrepreneurship hosted by FATE Foundation last week addressed issues bordering on the National Enterprise Development Program, development of MSME clusters across the country and building a regulatory framework for business Development Services Providers, BDSPs.
They also brainstormed on reviving the National Council on MSMEs , streamlining the regulatory and operational space to make sure they do not conflict or create bottlenecks, and making the various MSME Funds readily accessible.
Leading the discussions, the Minister of State, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Aisha Abubakar, represented by Mrs Adefunto Adegoke, stated: “Government has initiated programmes and institutions like the Bank of Industry, BoI and others to empower entrepreneurs in Nigeria.
‘‘However, active collaboration is necessary to develop MSMEs in Nigeria. So, government is taken steps to cushion the effect of operational challenges and that is providing a big relief to the sector”.
Adegoke advised that laws that no longer serve its purposes should be reviewed to suit present day business operations in Nigeria as this will bring sanity to most businesses today.
“There is also the need to streamline agency activities to achieve results as multiplicity of agencies are not doing the sector well’’, she added.
She also happed on the need for encouraging and mobilizing women into entrepreneurship. In her words: ‘‘considering the fact that when you empower a woman, you have empowered the society, government has created a lot of programmes to empower Nigerian women and youths to ensure self-reliance, job creation, among others.
Registrar General, Corporate Affairs commission, CAC, Mr. Bello Mahmud, who responded to several complaints by MSMEs regarding registration of businesses, said the Commission has scaled down both fees and processes for registration of businesses by MSMEs as its own contribution to improving the operating environment for them.
He however lamented that some other government agencies like the Federal Inland Revenue, FIRS and the States’ tax agencies were responsible for the tax components of MSME formalization.
He had also lamented that less than five million MSMEs, about 13.5% are registered as formal businesses with the Commission contrary to SMEDAN’s claim that its research shows existence of over 37 million MSMEs in the country.
Addressing the stakeholders, Director, Policy Advocacy and Coordination, Small & Medium Enterprise Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), Mr Monday Evans, said: “Considering the role of entrepreneurship in job creation in any given economy, there is need for adequate support from both public and private sector to nurture and develop entrepreneurship in the country.
“For us to move forward, there is need to partner credible people who understand the needs of MSMEs and are ready to render good services to promote their operations’’.
However, Evans encouraged agencies to come together to help move the sector forward, even as he advocates capacity building for SMEs and entrepreneurship in the country.
According to him, “if we must achieve desired results like other parts of the world, our laws and standards must be followed, even though this is why SMEDAN was set up in 2003 to control the activities of SME operations to certain level, there is need for more robust policy to tackle their growing challenges in the operating environment, such as credit, infrastructure, power etc. which are important to SMEs and entrepreneurship.
“Again, for SMEs to thrive and play a role in an economy like Nigeria, there must be political will to articulate good policies that promote business enterprises to deliver results.
The meeting also had international experience to share. Executive Director, Start-Up, Chile, Rocio Fonseca, advised Nigerians during the discussion that for MSMEs to grow and make an impact in a developing economy, there must be a purpose and a mind set of individuals and government to change things for better.
She stated: “This is the way institutions can develop and achieve results. Also empowering the people to fulfill that purpose is also important. So, there are a lot of activities to engage the people to change their mind set. We’ve done it in some universities in Chile and the result was huge”.
On mapping of Nigeria’s entrepreneurship ecosystem, Managing Director, Growth Capital Foundation, Co-Creator of City Hub (CHub), Tunji Eleso said, “entrepreneurship is all about identifying a problem and at the same time tackling it”.
Continuing, Eleso said, players in the industry should understand their role to improve Nigeria’s entrepreneurship ecosystem.
He stressed the need for government to play its part by providing conducive environment, infrastructure, laws to provide guideline for operations.
According to him, lot of all these require non-governmental organizations, NGOs, public and private collaboration to grow MSMEs and foster entrepreneurship for better results.
Managing Director, FATE Foundation, Adenike Adeyemi, said this programme was put up to engage key stakeholders to talk about critical issues that relate to entrepreneurship and business development in Nigeria, with the theme: ‘Nurturing public and private sector collaboration for entrepreneurship growth and development in Nigeria’.
‘‘Everybody talks about SMEs being the driver of development in the economy but we need to sharpen the actualisation of this in Nigeria. And this can only be done if government, private and other partners are doing their part to grow the sector.
‘‘Last year we did the first one on, SME Policy, and because of that a lot of conversations that started have created more room for advocacy. And right now we are working with some institutions to change certain things in the SME sector.
‘‘After here we are going to publish our report and push them to government to see how some of the key issues discussed can be implemented to boost SME sector in Nigeria’’.