By Yinka Kolawole
THE Small and MediumEn-terprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) has unveiled a Credit Information Portal to facilitate easier access to funding by the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) sector in Nigeria. Director-General of SMEDAN, Dr. Dikko Radda, disclosed this at a workshop on Enterprise Development Solutions Initiative (EDSI), yesterday, in Lagos.
Represented by Dr. Wale Fasanya, SMEDAN’s Director, Enterprise Development and Promotion, Radda said the initiative was part of the efforts of the agency’s efforts to tackle the challenges confronting the MSMEs sector in the country. His words: “This initiative is intended to ease up the task of sourcing for information regarding available credit facilities for MSMEs. The Portal provides an information pool that will assist entrepreneurs make informed decisions in getting loans and credits from financial institutions within their locations.”
The SMEDAN DG noted that though MSMEs in Nigeria were still largely informal in nature, they have contributed immensely to the national economy. “Several common but limiting factors have, however, constrained them over the years. These include poor access to useable funds/capital, difficulties in procuring raw materials, lack of access to relevant business information, difficulties in marketing and distribution of products. Other issues include low technological capabilities, high cost of transportation, communication problems, problems caused by cumbersome and costly bureaucratic procedures (especially in getting necessary approvals or licences) and policies and regulations that generate market distortions. In the face of the present economic recession, the MSMEs are expected to serve as catalyst for reversing the economic down-slide.”
This expectation is certainly not misplaced but would have been more justifiable if an enabling environment can be provided for each of the over 37 million MSMEs. You can imagine that over 37 million new jobs will be created by the entire MSMEs in Nigeria by simply creating one extra employment opportunity.
However, the development of a viable and efficient MSME sub-sector in Nigeria like other evolving nations is hampered by several constraints.
“As a neonate organisation saddled with the enormous responsibilities of sustainably developing the MSMSE sub-sector, SMEDAN is assiduously working as mandatorily permissible and operationally possible to “knock off” some of these limiters.
The agency has been involved in designing programs and projects, creating the appropriate platforms and partnerships for addressing some of the known plethora of constraints of MSMEs. As a pioneer and nodal institution for the sustainable development of MSMEs, the successes of the programs and projects of the agency have been inundated by the overwhelming challenges of MSMEs in the country,” he stated.
Radda reeled out statistical figures showing the importance of MSMEs sector to economic growth. According to him, a survey carried out by SMEDAN in conjunction with National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in 2013 showed that the total number of MSMEs in the country as at 2013 stood at 37,067,416 (Micro-36,994,578, Small- 68,168, and Medium-4,670). The total number of persons employed by the sector as at December, 2013 stood at 59,741,211, representing 84.02 percent of the total labour force, while MSMEs contribution to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product in nominal terms stood at 48.47 percent and contribution to export also accounted for 7.27 percent.