…creating jobs for youths, women
•Govs to be honoured at SME SUMMIT AND AWARDS 2018
Many stakeholders, including Governors Dave Umahi (Ebonyi), Aminu Masari (Katsina), Ifeanyi Ugwanyi (Enugu), Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta) and Darius Ishaku (Taraba), are using small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to give succour to the army of unemployed youths and women in their states.
They are creating jobs not only to boost their states’ respective economies but also providing the atmosphere for businesses to thrive. The governors seem to be working out of the conviction that SMEs are the engine of economic growth.
The expert opinion that SMEs provide the shortest route to economic prosperity sounds true in many countries, especially the advanced countries, where SMEs have been used to build strong and sustainable economies. For instance, SMEs in Canada are seen as the lifeblood of Canada’s economy.
There are over 1.1 million SMEs in the North American country constituting more than 99 per cent of Canadian business and employing more than 90 per cent of workers in the private sector. Promoting SMEs’ capacity and growth is essential for the future health of the Canadian economy. The situation is not different in the US as majority of the firms in the economy are not big multinational corporations but SMEs defined as businesses employing up to 500 workers.
Generally, small and medium-sized businesses are important for job creation and innovation. Although things have not been particularly rosy for the SMEs operating in Nigeria as it is in advanced economies, many stakeholders recognize them as the engine of economic growth. Our SMEs operate in a hostile environment and the challenges they face include poor infrastructure and lack of access to funds.
Across the country, the cost of doing business is high because infrastructural facilities like electricity and goods roads that ordinarily should be taken for granted are lacking. Business owners reel under exorbitant and multiple levies and taxes imposed by different tiers of government.
But the journey to setting our SMEs on a sound footing began with the establishment of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development of Nigeria (SMEDAN). Established under the SMEDAN Act 2003, the mandate is to stimulate, monitor and coordinate the development of the micro, small and medium enterprises, MSMEs, sub-sector in Nigeria. It initiates and articulates policy ideas for SMEs growth and development in the country.
Meanwhile, the Buhari administration, analysts say, has done more than any other administration in the history of Nigeria to move the SME sector forward. For instance, the Economic Management Team, headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, has been in the forefront of moving the economy out of the doldrums especially with the inauguration of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (EPGP) using SMEs as the peg. The result is that Nigeria has moved up in the global ranking of the ease of doing business while foreign investors are said to now consider the country as a business destination.
In a nutshell, things appear to be looking up. Beyond the efforts of the Federal Administration, state governments have been engaged in all sorts of initiatives aimed at creating an atmosphere for businesses to thrive.
That is not all. The latest initiative to reposition our SMEs is designed to showcase the giant strides of SMEs operators in the face of the odds, promote excellence among the operators and recognise stakeholders who have helped to advance the cause of the sector. Driven by Lakewhyte Communications and significantly endorsed by SMEDAN, the Nigeria SME Summit and Awards 2018 is designed to showcase the giant strides of SMEs operators in the face of the odds, promote excellence among the operators and recognise stakeholders who have helped to advance the cause of the sector. It also promises to be a platform to brainstorm on the challenges inherent in the sector and point the way forward.
The ceremony, according to the organisers, is scheduled to hold on November 29, 2018 in Abuja.
The organisers pointed out that the event is to retune our SMEs in such a way that they act as the engine of economic growth and thus help to take Nigeria out of the cesspit.
Apart from the SMEDAN endorsement of the project, Vice President Osinbajo is expected to be the Special Guest of Honour. The choice of the VP to play the role at the Nigeria SME Summit and Awards 2018 is understandable, given the huge attention MSMEs have been getting from the Buhari administration through his headship of the EMT.
Of particular interest is the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) under which Osinbajo, in collaboration with the Bank of Industry, has been reaching out to micro enterprises with funds.
Significantly, five governors who have been adjudged as standing out of the pack in their pro-SME schemes will be honoured at the event.
Umahi, Masari, Ugwuanyi, Okowa and Ishaku, among others, will receive awards for being SME-friendly.
“The Awards Committee of the SME Summit and Awards 2018 has found Govs Umahi (Ebonyi), Masari (Katsina), Ugwuanyi (Enugu), Okowa (Delta) and Ishaku (Taraba) worthy to receive awards for their pro-SME activities”, the organisers’ statement said.