By Yinka Kolawole
THE Federal Government is pushing forward with the implementation of its entrepreneurship development programme, The Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, MSMEs, as it rolls out the second leg today in Ilorin, Kwara State.
In continuation of the nationwide project, Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, will declare open a-three day MSMEs Clinic. According to sources in the Presidency managing the MSME programmes, Osinbajo would use the platform to make further policy pronouncements on the action plans for the sector.
Ahead of today’s event, Gov. Ahmed Abdulfatah of Kwara had expressed optimism that the MSMEs clinics would serve as “platform to articulate all platforms that will serve entrepreneurs in a better way. This is one of the things to happen to MSMEs because for the first time we are sitting together to fill the gaps. In the past these agencies have not been working in consonance”.
Chief Operating Officer, Kwara State MSMEs Bureau, Mr Segun Soewu, said the clinic is a platform for entrepreneurs in the state to discuss opportunities and challenges confronting their businesses.
Policies and regulations
He added that business owners could also make inquiries about policies and regulations regarding their businesses from several government agencies that would be at the programme.
Sector leaders said the renewed focus on MSMEs sector was because they constitute the bedrock of economic development in most countries, with four out of five new jobs being created by the sector in emerging markets.
The importance of MSMEs, according to them, is further underscored by a report by the World Bank which revealed that MSMEs contribute up to 45 percent of total employment and up to 33 percent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of emerging economies.
Moreover, a study by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed that over 37 million MSMEs operated in Nigeria between 2010 and 2013.
But it noted that many of them were confronted with several challenges, including administrative bottlenecks faced in securing approval to register their businesses, as well as access to funding.
They also noted the poor financial and business management skills as part of the challenges bedeviling the sector. Recall that Osinbajo, last month in Abuja, launched a nationwide project named “MSME Clinics” to serve as a one stop shop to address challenges faced by small business owners in the country.
He said the clinics would be inaugurated across the states of the federation, beginning with Abia.
“Working very closely with the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment we came up with the idea of MSMEs Clinics as an important building block not as a silver bullet, but as an important block in finding a solution.
The term Clinics was chosen deliberately to reflect three things all borrowed from the health sector. The first is that individual MSMEs face problems that can hopefully be addressed through direct access to relevant officials.
Expensive and time consuming travel
The second is that direct consultations with very senior experts will find solution. The third is that a reasonably large number of people can be attended to without any need for expensive and time consuming travel to agencies offices,” he stated.
Osinbajo said the Clinics would give opportunity for MSME operators to interact directly with regulators. “We have therefore brought together state governments and this will also help to give us and the regulatory agencies a better understanding and also enable the state government themselves to play a key role in assisting with facilitating the business of MSMEs,” he added.
Relevant agencies: Agencies being mobilized to ensure the initiative achieve the objectives include: Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Nigerian Investment Promotion Council (NIPC), Nigerian Export Promotion Council(NEPC), Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency (SMEDAN),
Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Nigerian Export-Import Bank and National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Bank of Industry (BOI), Nigeria Customs Service, Ministry of Trade and Investment, among many others. Also recall that Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had launched the MSME Development Fund with a share capital of N220 billion, in other to support operators in the sector.
Take-off: The first in the country-wide MSMEs Clinic was rolled out in Aba, Abia State last month by the Vice President, where he said the quest for development of local capacity is a panacea for rapid economic growth. ”We will spend time to ensure that we give those who produce locally all the support that we can give, and that is why we are doing this clinics,” he said.
Stakeholders applaud: Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia said the initiative will provide opportunity for the MSMEs to interact with relevant agencies to find lasting solutions to their problems. “I think it is a healthy development that one can have the opportunity to sit down one-on-one between relevant agencies and those people they are supposed to serve.
Mr Chibuike Enyioko, Principal Officer of Abia Youth League, commended the Federal Government for the initiative. He said the initiative would enable the relevant agencies to identify and address the challenges facing local manufacturers.
President of Youth Empowerment for Self-Reliance Initiative (YESRI), Mr. Uzodinma Paul said that the clinics would provide a platform for active participation of stakeholders in growing of MSMEs.