Nigeria’s Vice President on Thursday said the impact of government’s efforts in the development and promotion of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) in the country must be clear and measurable. Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), maintained that this is the only way massive funding can be attracted to fund small and medium scale businesses from investors and banks. Prof Osinbajo, who spoke during a session in his office with management staff of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), led by its Director-General, Alhaji Bature Umar Masari, noted that scale and focus were key for the agency to achieve the goals for which it was created.
Stressing the importance of SMEDAN succeeding in its mandate, the Vice President said a well-structured small and medium scale industry is the way to go if the Nigerian economy must be developed to catch up with the advanced world.
“When people are able to do things for themselves that is when we can say we are developed.
“No country develops without vibrant small and medium enterprises. It is the base for commerce and industry. We need to scale up. We must design a strategy that allows us to create an impact with the people. This is what the big nations of the world are doing.
“Naturally, Nigerians have commercial inclinations,” he maintained, adding that “the problem is the absence of capacity building. People have ideas, but cannot execute these ideas, some are even lacking in bookkeeping”, Prof. Osinbajo said.
The Vice President also stressed the importance of the informal sector, insisting that “if we can focus on the market women, for instance, and help them build their businesses by training them and arming them with basic business skills, there will be impact and a positive effect on their value chain.”
Prof. Osinbajo also noted that technology start-ups is another area that should be encouraged by SMEDAN, stressing that the agency must ensure it measures any progress recorded in its obligations.
He also restated his position to make government policies grounded in the realities of the day, touching the lives of the poor, and not just elitist in design and delivery.
“We need to focus on the underserved, so that a robust economy can be created. We have 110 million extremely poor people in Nigeria. Take a look at the artisans. We can give them vocational training, which can lead to a certification process and in turn improve their businesses and lives. After which, they can hire more hands and get others out of poverty as well. We need people-oriented focus”, he said
Responding, Mr Masari outlined the many plans SMEDAN had drawn to attract more investments and funding to the SMEs and the frustrations they had encountered.
He also said despite the agency encouraging entrepreneurs to register cooperatives, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Bank of Industry (BOI) would always insist on the existence of conventional conditions of providing collateral before giving loans and rejecting the cooperative lending model practices in several other nations.