The Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) has awarded Practicing Licenses to 150 qualified Business Development Service Providers (BDSPs), it trained under its Certification and Accreditation Framework. Ambassador Mariam Yelwaji Katagum, Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment at the maiden award ceremony in Abuja, said the implementation of the BDSPs certification and accreditation framework was a step in the right direction.
Business Development Service Providers BDSPs are experts who build the capacity of the MSMEs to be potentially viable in business operation for economic sustainability. Ambassador Katagum, represented by Mr Adewale Bakare, Director, Industrial Development of the ministry, said the successful BDSPs were in the position to demonstrate technical knowledge relevant to the effective delivery of the Business Development Service in MSMEs ecosystem. The BDSPs she said would at the end of the day also demonstrate thorough understanding of the MSMEs sub sectoral challenges; Use effective facilitation skills to support MSMEs in overcoming those challenges as well as applying relevant diagnostic tools in assessing the MSMEs Business and providing necessary support based on information derived from same.
In order to ensure strict compliance with pre certification training conditions, she said two foremost institutions in Nigeria were selected and certified to train and present candidates for certification and accreditation. Katagum added that the institutions were; The Enterprises Development Center EDC of the Pan Atlantic University Lagos and the Entrepreneurship Support Center ESC, of Kaduna Business School. She added that these institutions trained the BDSPs and then recommended them to the National Steering Committee (NSC) for screening and certification accordingly. The Minister congratulated the awardees for having the technical capacity to pass through the certification process, adding that lack of access to Business Development Service was a major challenge confronting MSMEs in their bid to optimize their operations towards the contributions to national economic development.
“For having been adjudged technically proficient, a whole lot of responsibility lies on your shoulders to ensure that the Nigerian MSMES are specially taken care in all the functional areas of small micro and medium businesses, you are also to ensure that the MSMEs are given appropriate value for their money” noted Katagum. The minister also reminded the BDSPs that SMEDAN and other relevant stakeholders in the MSMEs ecosystems have agreed that only certified BDSPs would be engaged to deliver capacity building, mentorship, counseling and other forms of Business Development Services (BDS) to MSMEs in Nigeria.
In addition she said SMEDAN would ensure that names and particulars of the certified BDSPs are posted on their websites and other social media handles as well as in major newspapers in the country. In his welcome remark, the Director General of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria, SMEDAN, Dr. Dikko Umaru Radda said the BDSPs were critical to economic development because they could provide capacity for the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) development.
Radda, while urging the BDSPs to use the opportunity to help the agency and the Federal Government to develop the MSMEs, assured them of high placed priority in all SMEDAN’s projects beginning from the year 2022 capital project implementation of the agency. He thanked members of the National Steering Committee (NSC), which was inaugurated in November 2020, for agreeing to do the national assignment and its effort to actualize the project.
According to him, SMEDAN has been on the journey to make the BDSPs certification and accreditation a reality for the past five years.
“There are thousands of business service providers working in the country without certification and accreditation, we have to ensure that we get others to be certified,” he said. He thanked the Lagos Business School and Kaduna Business School for making the projects a reality.
Dr. Waheed Olagunju , Chairman of the National Steering Committee (NSC) of the National BDSPs Certification and Accreditation Programme said in the process of screening the first batch of the BDSPs, it identified some gaps but continued to engage them because BDSPs were needed for MSMEs space.
He said for Nigeria to realize its development aspiration, it needed to convert the business potentials into prosperity for the country and citizens.
“And if this would happen, it all depends on the success of the MSMEs. Unfortunately in the last six decades we have not paid enough attention to the development of the sector.
“But this initiative is the boldest step ever taken in the country to build the capacity of the people, then capital in the form of equity, grants and support from family and friends.
“ Each of the 774 LGAs in the country is highly endowed with minerals and natural resources, and comparative advantages, but cannot be effectively converted to competitive advantage and that is the responsibilities of BDSPs,’’ he said.
Also speaking, Mrs, Nneka Okekearu, Deputy Director, EDC, Lagos said the awardees passed through an extremely vigorous process which included training, examination, screening and presentation of skills among others. She noted that the training which covered financial and talent management issues, was to strengthen the existing knowledge of the BDSPs, and how to understand different types of diagnostic tools to be used. Responding, Mr Idoko Onoja, one of newly inducted Business Development Service Provider, thanked the SMEDAN and the facilitating institutions, EDC and KBS for the opportunity and license, adding that they would deploy sector knowledge to the MSMEs development.