The Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) has stressed the need to support growth and development of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector as it is one of the fastest means of generating foreign exchange and create employment for the teeming youths in the country.
Its Director General, Dr Dikko Radda, said this at a three-day capacity building programme for women with the theme “Strengthening of Women Business Membership Organisation (BMOS) to Global Competitiveness” organised by SMEDAN in Owerri on Monday.
Radda said that one of the greatest challenges of Nigerian economy was lack of foreign exchange, stressing that MSMEs had the potential of generating sizeable foreign exchange through export of goods and services.
Radda, who was represented by Dr Friday Okpara, the Director, Strategic Partnership and Liaison in the agency, said that Nigeria was yet to benefit substantially from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
He said that another opportunity for export of Nigerian goods was the “ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS), adding that the scheme was targeted at increasing free flow of intra-community trade on goods that are mostly produced in the ECOWAS member states.
“The benefits and incentives which AGOA and ETLS span over 6,400 products which are in abundance in Nigeria. If Nigeria MSMEs can be developed and equipped to properly reap from the benefits these opportunities present alone, Nigeria will actualise its economic recovery and growth plan (ERGP).
“Our MSMEs are capable of generating enough foreign exchange and massive employment for our teeming unemployed youth,” he said.
The SMEDAN boss said that the capacity building programme was designed for selected BMOs throughout the country to improve their institutional, organisational and advocacy capacities.
According to him, it was also to accelerate the development of the MSME sector by strengthening the capacities of the BMOs and trade organisations, thus enabling more effective operation and sustainability of these organisations in the short, medium to long term.
“This capacity building is geared towards promoting MSME in Nigeria and show case their potential, expose them to business networking opportunities, access to raw materials availabilities and export market linkages.
“It is also to maintain standardisation for global competitiveness and deliberately proffer solutions towards revamping the nation economically,” he said.
The programme in Owerri, which was strictly for women owned organisations, had 110 participants, 10 members each from 11 women BMOs.
The programme was started on Feb. 26 and will end on Feb. 28.
“As an agency mandated to build a structured and efficient MSME sector, we will continue to strive for excellence and strategic growth through forming a strong partnership with reputable public and private sector institution,” he said.
The various women groups commended SMEDAN for organising the programme, which they said would make women better entrepreneurs.
They said there was the need for women to come together, share business information and disseminate same to other women entrepreneurs at the grassroots.
Mrs Adaeze Ozongwu, the National President, Nigeria Association of Women Entrepreneurs (NAWE), in her goodwill message, said the aim of the programme was to enable every woman entrepreneur to keep abreast of current trends in the business world.
According to her, women entrepreneurs should be abreast of proper packaging of their products, certification and acquisition of business knowledge.
Mrs Nkeiru Okpara of the Association of Nigeria Women Network and a legal practitioner, described the programme as laudable and commended SEDAN for organising it.
She urged women not to be deterred, but to be determined and use the opportunity of the training to make impacts in the business world.
Mrs Hannatu Sani, who represented Small Scale Women Farmers Organisation of Nigeria, said that women would be taught on meeting standards and ways to package their farm produce not only for local use, but for export.