The Director General of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) Alhaji Bature Umar Masari has urged Nigerians to key into investment opportunities in rural areas for job and wealth creation.He gave the advice while addressing State House Correspondents after briefing Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on the activities of SMEDAN.The Vice President is the Chairman of the National Council on MSME.
Masari said that the federal agencies involved in MSME development had done a lot to provide skills and jobs for millions of Nigerians but added that a lot of potential in the rural areas had yet to be explored.
“But still there is a very huge employment need in that sector because of the potential in Nigeria.
“There is no local government you go to in Nigeria that does not have a product that we can begin to add value on and begin to produce for local consumption and for international markets.
“We are imploring on Nigerians to begin to key into these opportunities in their localities.
“So that we can continue to guide individuals and groups on how to key into the value chain additional lines of major product that that are available in every local government area.
“Nigeria is hugely endowed and many Nigerians are equally enterprising.
“The challenges that have afflicted the MSME development in the country are being looked into by the Agency and by the Federal Government with a view to providing solutions to most of these problems.”
Masari said that there was so much space in the MSME sub sector of the economy to absorb the jobless youth.He said: “There is a space for every Nigerian who is unemployed in the MSME sub sector of the economy.
“We are there for you to reach us, so that we can guide you and make sure that we prepare you to go into enterprise creation or get an employment in an already existing enterprise.
“We just came out with another survey which indicated a significant increase in the number of MSMEs operating in the country.
“As against 2012, when we had 17.2 million MSMEs, now in Nigeria we have 37 million MSMEs.
“As against 2012 when the 17 million MSMEs were providing jobs to only about 32 million Nigerians the 37 million MSMEs we have in Nigeria currently are providing employment to over 59 million Nigerians.
“That is a huge increase in the MSME that are operating in Nigeria and providing jobs.”
Masari said that the Agency in 2013 developed the National Enterprise Development Programme(NEDEP) to provide solutions to major challenges afflicting MSMEs development in the country.
He said the challenges ranged from lack of access to finance to lack of access to market and the need for up calling of skills in Nigeria, providing vocational training to many Nigerians who wished to go into entrepreneurship but lacked the necessary vocational skills to go into it.
“We are doing quite a lot in that regard.
“We started implementing the NEDEP programme in 2013 and in that year alone we were able to engineer the creation of over 263,000 enterprises.
“And if you multiply 263,000 enterprises by the number of people working in those enterprises it will translate to close to one million jobs provided in that sector by the agencies using the programme.
“And in 2014, we also engineered the creation of about 386,000 new enterprises.
“If you translate that also to the number of jobs and number of people who are working in these enterprises it is more than one million people that are gainfully employed in the MSME sector using the platform of the NEDEP programme in Nigeria.
“We intend to replicate that particular achievement year after year until Nigerians are gainfully employed,” he added.
Masari hinted that the VP explained the willingness of the Federal Government to use the Agency to drive its job creation agenda. (NAN)