By Naomi Uzor
The President of the Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME), Dr. Ike Abugu, has lamented that the Federal Government abandoned the Association when it was a toddler.
Speaking on the occasion of the 2009 patrons and trustees dinner, he disclosed that the case of NASME is particularly apt, because the Federal Government initiated the establishment of NASME and the idea was to nurture the Association to maturity and then leave it in the hands of the private sector operators but this was not to be as government left them when they were still a toddler.
â€œIn all these, a business association like ours is very relevant. it helps to organise the numerous entities operating in different industries and goes further to articulate their needs and demands for onward transmission to the government of the day in a civilised manner.Â It is therefore in the interest of government that viable business associations operate in the country.â€
â€œNo take-off grant was ever provided to NASME, and no donor agency ever funded NASME, no state government ever supported a state chapter financially.Â Nothing! And remember this is an association of struggling SMEs, not multinationals, not oil companies or banks or telecom giantsâ€ he stated
According to him, for the Nigerian economy to begin to achieve the double digit growth badly needed to attain vision 20: 2020, the potential of the Nigerian SMEs must be unleashed, adding that unleashing the natural entrepreneurial talent of the average Nigerian is all the government needs to do to place the country in the first twenty economies in the world.
Furthermore, he said for the country to be in the first twenty economies in the world, the government needs to bring back the Small and Medium Enterprises Equity Investment Scheme (SMEEIS), facilitate access to cheap, long-term funding for genuine enterprises, introduce tax holidays for start-ups for the first five years and charging single digit tax thereafter, fix infrastructure, especially electric power, rail system, roads, water and gas, overhaul the educational system, especially science, technical and vocational education and introduce mandatory patronage of products of Nigerian SMEs.
Abugu disclosed that a conservative estimate puts NASMEâ€™s cash needÂ at a hundred million over the next two years for acquisition of the office equipments and operational vehicles, state chapters expansion/creation, aggressive membership drive nationally, acquisition of befitting office in Abuja and Lagos, upgrading of website and creation of database of SMEs nationwide.