SMEDAN To Sustain 61 Million Jobs, 39 SME Enterprises In Nigeria

From left, Secretary, Guild of Corporate Online Publishers, Collins Edomaruse; DG/CEO of SMEDAN, Olawale Fasanya and Deputy Director, Policy at SMEDAN, Onesie Lawani at a Media Forum in Lagos.

Yemisi Izuora

The Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria, SMEDAN, has put forward a number of proposals and outlined initiatives to save operations of Small and Medium Enterprises, SMEs in the country.

According to the last report of the SMEDAN, National Bureau of Statistics, NBS National Survey of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), Nigeria has a total number of enterprises in the sub-sector at well over 39 million providing a total of over 61 million employments and about 49 per cent of total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Nigeria.

But as important as the sub-sector is to the national economy, it is still encumbered with several challenges which the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing Ukraine-Russia have further worsened.

Essentially, the challenges of MSMEs usually border on access to finance, market, equipment, information, technical and entrepreneurial skills and workspace. These were some of the fundamental challenges that informed the establishment of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) vide the SMIDA Act in 2003.

Having existed for close to two decade, the Agency has had four past Director-Generals to pilot the structured, sustainable and efficient development of the MSMEs in Nigeria.

Speaking at an interactive session with the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers, GOCOP and some Business Editors in Lagos, the newly appointed Director General, DG, of the Agency, Mr. Olawale Fasanya, said that apart from building on the foundations laid by his predecessors so as to cause a positive shift in the MSMEs development narratives in Nigeria, he has developed other initiatives to further grow the sector.

He noted that his appointment as the DG, on June 6th, 2022 marked the first time that a staff of the Agency will be at the helms of affairs to drive the sustainable and inclusive development of the sub-sector.

The import of this is that expectations from Stakeholders are expectedly and justifiably high to help address the problems of MSMEs in Nigeria, said Fasanya.

“Having worked very closely with all the past Director-Generals, I owe it a duty to significantly . It is in view of this that I have the rare privilege of engaging with you to enable me share my vision for this very important but highly endangered sector of Nigeria’s economy and also get feedbacks from you.” he said.

He told the forum that he has commenced engaging with the Staff of the Agency and other MSME-enabling Stakeholders an exercise he promised to be continuous both locally and internationally.

Another move he intend to make is to pay courtesy visits to key Agencies of Government and non-government stakeholders and some key Stakeholders to enable him harvest inputs directly from real MSME players.

“I am however aware that they were consulted during the process of reviewing the National Policy but the MSME space is very dynamic requiring regular engagements and feedbacks.

“Like you are aware, there are programs and projects in the Agency that were carefully designed to address some of the challenges of MSMEs but it has become necessary to start reviewing such based on the feedbacks that this ongoing engagements from the MSMEs will give us.

“Part of what we hope to achieve during my tenure is to ensure that I have capable, competent, skilled and healthy workforce. In this regard, I have instructed the appropriate Department to put in place specific trainings to bridge identified gaps among staff. I have also directed that every staff of the Agency must be afforded an opportunity to check their health status at least twice a year. This will help in early detection of ailments that could become life threatening and with negative impacts on staff productivity.” the DG added.

Speaking on the Developing-8 (D-8) initiative, Fasanya said the D-8 Centre for SMEs is a proposal already submitted to the D8 Secretariat which is an international organisation specifically established for the development cooperation among Nigeria, Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Pakistan and Turkey.

This is intended to help promote, encourage, advance and support the activities of MSMEs at the national level as well as within the D-8 region to further strengthen economic, trade and commercial integration and linkages.

He explained that the establishment of the D-8 Centre for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) will unleash substantial development impacts.

“Synergies between and among the Centre and relevant national agencies/authorities, D-8 Secretariat and other bodies will provide tremendous opportunities for MSMEs to connect and jointly explore opportunities on transforming scientific innovations at the national level into development solutions for the D-8 family.

“In line with the foregoing, we are currently working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Nigeria Export Promotion Council and other stakeholders to host a D8 SME forum in Nigeria towards the end of August 2022.” he said.

He also mentioned the submission of request to the Commonwealth Secretariat to access the Commonwealth’s technical assistance on Women and Youth Support Programs.

This has focus areas aimed at training of women entrepreneurs on e-commerce known as “Digital Boot Camp” for women to know how to design their website and carry out trade across borders; participation in the activities of the Intra-Commonwealth MSME Association with the mandate to create a platform for MSMEs across the Commonwealth to meet, interact and trade through some partnerships and technical support for research activities by the Agency.

 

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