By Yemisi Izuora
Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) play a major role in most economies, particularly in developing countries.
According to experts, SMEs account for the majority of businesses worldwide and are important contributors to job creation and global economic development.
The World Bank has also said that they represent about 90 per cent of businesses and more than 50 per cent of employment worldwide.
Formal SMEs contribute up to 40 per cent of national income (GDP) in emerging economies.
These numbers are significantly higher when informal SMEs are included, and a to World Bank estimates, 600 million jobs will be needed by 2030 to absorb the growing global workforce, which makes SME development a high priority for many governments around the world.
In emerging markets like Nigeria, most formal jobs are generated by SMEs, which create 7 out of 10 jobs. However, access to finance is a key constraint to SME growth, it is the second most cited obstacle facing SMEs to grow their businesses in emerging markets and developing countries.
SMEs are less likely to be able to obtain bank loans than large firms; instead, they rely on internal funds, or cash from friends and family, to launch and initially run their enterprises.
The International Finance Corporation (IFC) estimates that 65 million firms, or 40 per cent of formal micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in developing countries, have an unmet financing need of $5.2 trillion every year, which is equivalent to 1.4 times the current level of the global MSME lending.
Changing The Narrative In Nigeria
Oriental News Nigeria, reports that First Bank is changing the narrative through its well structured gender finance project.
To achieve the lofty initiative, the ELOY Awards Foundation in partnership with FirstBank recently launched the 2022 Edition of the first ever “Eloy Business Shower”, designed and dedicated to encouraging, promoting, and empowering businesses owned by female entrepreneurs across Nigeria.
The aim is to expose female entrepreneurs to important business skills, networking, and the Eloy Foundation Business Toolkit, which is a collection of business survival information, grants, and affordable loans which is being executed through FirstBank’s FirstGem 9 per Loan Scheme created for female-owned MSMEs and the SMEConnect Initiative.
The Business Shower by the ELOY Awards Foundation was held in five different states; Lagos, Port Harcourt, Abuja, Kano, and Abia.
According to the Founder of the ELOY Awards Foundation, Tewa Onasanya, the event was held to support business owners on their journey to building a sustainable business.
“We hosted over 500 hundred women across Nigeria. It was an avenue for these women to gain access to entrepreneurial training from experienced businessmen and women, who armed them with tools and information to help them grow their businesses successfully”.
Onasanya noted that following the huge success, phase two of the event will begin in August when ELOY Awards Foundation will enroll 50 women who are small business owners in the three-month ELOY Foundation Sustainable Empowerment Program (SEP), these small business owners will be mentored for three months and they will have access to entrepreneurial training every month, mentorship, access to information on affordable finance and 10 of these women will be considered for a grant to assist them in their businesses.
Following on from this event, preparations have started for the 14th ELOY Conference and Awards which will hold on November 25th. Registration for this for business owners and exhibitors has started. Details can be found on the eloyawards.com website.
The ELOY Awards Foundation aims to sustain women’s empowerment through access to affordable finance, entrepreneurial training, mentoring, networking opportunities, and more. The foundation is about empowering and challenging thousands of women to be more and do more by providing access to resources, business skills, and tools for them to be able to grow, transform and sustain their businesses, which will, in turn, benefit their families and the community at large.