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Research key to unlocking potential of SMEs – Experts

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Technologists on Wednesday, said paying more attention to research would promote the growth of small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) in the country.

The experts, who spoke to newsmen at the ongoing Science and Technology Expo in Abuja, said research would optimise the performance of the SME sector as the bedrock of the economy.

Speaking at the event, the Managing Director, Soft Design Leather Works, Mr Ebenezer Odeshola, described research as the live wire of every business.

“It is finding out what your audience, customers or clients want. Then you also get to know their perspectives which help you diversify to suite their yearnings for you to have a sustainable business,” he added.

Odeshola said his company, which was located in Zaria was a product of research through partnership with national and international organisations.

“We use hide and skin couple with other crucial materials to produce products like belts, shoes, sandals, military and para-military boots and a whole lot of foot wears,” he said.

On his part, Mr Promise Amarah, the Senior Engineer with the Department of the Project Development Institute (PRODA), Ministry of Science and Technology, said small businesses sprang from research.

“If there is no breakthrough in research, the SMEs cannot come to play. It is when there is a breakthrough in research we can now demonstrate it using the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs),” he said.

On how the government can assist, Amarah said leaders at various levels must be ready to fund research, create the enabling environment for researchers and encourage those the  under-researched to do more.

“Because research is not a hit-and-run situation; if you are into research, it will take your time, it will take your money and it will take your intelligence,” he said.

Dr Zainab Hammanga, the Director, Raw Materials Research and Development Council, said through research, the indigenous technology had been upgraded.

“The cattle used to produce 1 to 2 litres of milk per day but through the upgraded technology, our cattle now produce 15 liters of milk a day.

“Matra Kilishi, which is made from cow meat, used to take three days to produce but now, it is produced within eight hours. It is now better packaged and more hygienic.

“Also, we produce brake pads for vehicles from palm kernel shell, among others,” she explained.

Hammanga said that by partnering with state governments, private and international organisations, the council was able to create at least 2, 500 jobs for Nigerians.

Dr Rose Gidado, the Country Coordinator, Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology in Africa (OFAB), Nigeria chapter, said without research, there would be no product.

“Without research, you cannot have a product. So research actually gives you the products that the small and medium scale industries require, and this will attract investors.

“So research is actually very helpful to SMEs because with it, they will come up with so many products; those products that will stand the test of time.

“This is so because any product that comes up without research cannot make headway,” she said.

Gidado said her office created a platform for public education on the use of technology to boost agricultural products and enhance the acceptance of technology, hence government should encourage researchers.


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