The Director-General of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria, SMEDAN, Dr. Dikko Umaru Radda, has affirmed that the revised National Policy on MSMEs recently approved by the Federal Executive Council, FEC will be the overarching framework for the development of the sub-sector in Nigeria. He made this known in a keynote address he delivered at the opening of the 2021 MSME Opportunity fair held at the NERDC Conference building in Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos.He also said the revised policy would soon be formally presented to stakeholders.
Dr. Radda who reiterated the importance of opportunity fairs to MSMEs in Nigeria, added that the fairs were designed to provide opportunities for exhibition of good and products by MSMEs. The Director General said the opportunity fairs offer participating MSMEs a real life platform to hook up to not only market opportunities but also to network with regulatory agencies. He said, SMEDAN was aware that, just as the pandemic led to the shutdown of several small and growing businesses in Nigeria. “It also led to the emergence of disruptive innovations which has been responsible for some innovative processes in the start and management of new start-ups and existing enterprises”.
Dr. Radda noted that the MSME subsector account for over 41 million businesses and provides over 59 million employments in Nigeria. As important as this sub sector is, to the overall wellbeing of the nation’s economy, he said it was still bedeviled by some challenges that do not allow for some of the new enterprises to survive its 3rd year anniversary. He said, understanding that access to market was a challenge. SMEDAN has over the years worked hard to ensure that opportunity fairs are held even if it demands the deployment of ICT platforms.
The SMEDAN boss said the agency’s commitment to the robust development of the MSME sector and the need to reduce the impact of the recent pandemic informed the choice of MSMEs: key to an inclusive and sustainable post pandemic recovery as the theme or this year’s fair. Dr. Radda stressed that the fair was designed to provide opportunities for exhibition of goods and products by a select MSMEs. He said the offering of this year fair was the business to business platform and availability of technically qualified Enterprise Development Service Providers at the business clinic.
He said the fair would also provide opportunities for critical MDAs that are MSME enablers or regulators to freely interact with MSMEs operators. The Director General also stated that the fair would also provide an opportunity for MSMEs to interact with the agency one on one to acquire business information; interface with business regulatory agencies for enquiries; Access to relevant information peculiar to their various businesses and appreciate and promote home made goods and services, Made in Nigeria. On the supply side, Dr. Radda noted that the fair will give the agency the opportunity to assess the capabilities of MSMEs to enable it design need based intervention programmes and also for prospective MSMEs who have been aspiring to start a business to have the courage to launch out.
Dr. Radda also explained that the fair would be used to register businesses on the MSMEs Mass Registration Programme platform while participating MSMEs will get their products uploaded free on the market hub app. Dr. Radda further appealed to states yet to constitute their MSME state council to do so while equally urging states that the councils are inactive to work hard towards resuscitating them.
On the need to have an up to date data with global acceptance and relevance compelled the agency to initiate another round of the National MSME Survey which is to be conducted in partnership with the National Bureau of Statistics NBS in August. He urged all Business Membership Organizations BMOs, Associations Cooperatives, Cluster groups, and MDAs to cooperate with enumerators from the National Bureau of Statistics NBS and SMEDAN when the programme commences.
In her address at the event, the Lagos State Commissioner for Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives, Dr. Lola Akande said businesses must adapt to the new reality of remote work brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. While speaking on the theme of the fair: Key to an Inclusive and Sustainable Post Pandemic Recovery, the commissioner who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mr. Sowedo Oluseyi Whenu explained the need for Nigeria to diversify her economy through networking and value addition which is paramount now due to the COVID-19 pandemic crisis and the likely attended economic recession.
She charged the government and private sector, especially small businesses to step up their game by creating a positive business environment for
entrepreneurship and small business growth. “As a responsive and responsible Government, it is therefore important for us to provide support to help entrepreneurs and business owners mitigate such challenges through consistent marketing support mileage activities.
“I want to assure you that the Lagos State Government would continue to be your partner in progress towards ensuring a conducive business environment for investment and investors to thrive in the state,” she said.