The Ajeromi Ifelodun Local Government Small and Medium Enterprise Trade Group recently had a Think-Tank with entrepreneurs made up of small business owners, aspiring entrepreneurs, tailoring associations, hairdressers association and others.
The event which was organized by the Chief Of Staff to the Council Chairman, Mr Lucky Uduikhue held at the Chairman’s Chamber, Ajegunle Apapa Lagos and was attended by those within and outside the locality who came to benefit from the ample opportunity given to them by the council chairman, Hon Fatai Adekunle Ayoola.
Access bank, Ibile Micro Finance Bank, Fiam and Xpress Payment Solution were partners to the programme. Participants enjoyed benefits of attending that include, access to SME loans and grants, SME training and retraining, skills development, business plan support, technology transfer, business/trade exposure through Ajeromi Ifelodun Trade Fairs, exhibitions and other events, networking with business owners, professionals, NGOs and Corporate donors, mentorship, business supports, promoting business through SME social media channels and websites as well as establishing relationship with business stakeholders.
While delivering a lecture titled; Business Restructuring; a Guest Speaker, Mr Jimoh Ibrahim said for Nigeria to move forward, it needs entrepreneurs because they employ about 60 per cent of the workforce.
He was of the view that Nigerians need to engage more in business now than before and therefore called for business restructuring. He said; “for every business to move forward, one must understand that he is number one sales person. We should also see ourselves as those who are out to impact our economy. As business owners, we should try as possible to pay ourselves salaries and separate your business money from your personal money.”
Representative of the Lagos State Ministry of Commerce, Alhaji Adeniji Yusuf who gave a lecture on; The Role Cooperative Society for Small businesses, noted that entrepreneurs should know the people they co-exist with in business and cooperate with those who are in the line of their businesses, as that would enhance success.
He observed that the major challenge of every entrepreneur is funding. “In business, there should be a forum to exchange ideas and see how one can be of help to others. Major challenges in business are cooperation and insincerity. There is a need to be sincere in every cooperative society, as that conquers the devil within. As you cooperate, you make more money, groom yourselves, expand your horizon and market. ”
Mr. Fatai Ahmed of Access Bank who spoke on CBN Loan for Small businesses, stressed the need for entrepreneurs to understand the new technology, as information is key to the development of SMEs. He revealed that banks refuse to grant loans to many entrepreneurs because they do not keep proper record of their sales, and therefore will not understand their business cycles.
Mr Odedeyi Abiodun of the Ibile Micro Finance on available loan for small businesses called on entrepreneurs to cultivate the habits of saving and ensure that their products are original and marketable in order to get referrals and access bank loans easily. “Banks do not borrow ghosts money. They must understand your savings capacity.”
Also the CEO of Fiam (AJ City Internet) Mr Akin Morinho who spoke on impression during business interview advised entrepreneurs to maintain integrity in their relationships with customers.
Chairman of the Local Government, Hon Fatai Ayoola said his government is working to change the narratives of what people say the locality is. He said that for businesses to strive in the locality, there is need for adequate security of lives and property of the people. As a result, he said some measures have been put in place to ensure security by donating a patrol vehicle and motorbikes to each of the three police divisions in the area for quick response to distress calls for crime-fighting and prevention.
Ayoola also said the local government donated a patrol vehicle each to the Nigerian Army, Navy and Special Anti Robbery Squad to regular patrol in the area. “Very few people who had their children abroad hardly bring them here for education, but I did so because I am proud of my root. So, we will continue to do our best to make out people happy and comfortable.”
Chief Of Staff to the Council Chairman, Mr Lucky Uduikhue explained that the programme was to enhance the productivity and viability of all SMEs in Ajeromi Ifelodun and its environs, and to create a platform for networking, mentorship, accessing of loans and grants, developing business opportunities, motivation, training and other strategies that promote sustainable business growth for start-ups and others who are in business.
He said the programme became necessary because a lot of challenges arise in SMEs, as many of them have no structures and are not bankable. “Those who are bankable, do not have what it takes to put their business in order. So, we decided to give them orientation and education to support them arrange their businesses, so that if opportunities come their way in form of loan, they should be able to access them without hitches.”
Uduikhue said the Ajeromi Ifelodun Local Government wants to see how it can work with entrepreneurs and banks to create a relationship in order to have access to funds. “We want to give them an enabling environment by giving them the orientation to repackage themselves, restructure their business and environment, so that, they would have access to fund lenders to improve and grow their businesses.”
According to him, the standard of living in the locality is low and the local government is doing her best to tackle most of the challenges of the people in the area of security, empowerment, road and school rehabilitation, as well as lot of other infrastructures. “So far, so good, the Local Government Chairman is doing his best to meet the needs of Ajeromi Ifelodun residents.