The Centre Manager of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Network (SME-DN), Mr Nwaerema Peace, says for any nation to attain economic buoyancy, it must address major challenges militating against its SMEs by creating enabling environment for their operations to succeed.
Peace stated this at a media briefing on partnership on SME Development in Egi Community, organised by Total E&P Limited for host communities of OML58.
He noted that the ambition of Total for supporting the OML 58 Small and Medium-Scale Business Initiative through its partnership with Egi Peoples Assembly, Fortis Microfinance Bank and his centre, was to increase and sustain socio-economic development of its host communities.
The Centre Manager commended Total for the new initiative and explained that it would afford entrepreneurs in OML 58 access to business competence, market, innovation and finance which would also increase job opportunities in the area.
“The potential development is that in the nearest future, there will be increased small and medium enterprises as well as small-scale factories scattered across OML 58 area”, he remarked.
He said SME-DN was established by TEPNG in 2011 as an intervention centre to drive the paradigm shift from oil and gas contract-driven economy to enterprise driven one because of the fear of what happens when oil and gas shut down.
“In preparation to this demise, Total E & P Nigeria Limited has the passion to initiate and support this mission to
make its host communities less dependent on oil and gas business alone as it affects other multinational oil companies in Nigeria and beyond”, he stated.
Peace said, so far, over 350 entrepreneurs have been trained by the centre to manage their business while over 360 job opportunities have been created since inception of the programme.
He remarked that the scheme would be more committed in supporting full-scale factories scheme as one best option to fighting unemployment and poverty and solicited for the support of all and sundry in providing the needed enabling environment for the programme to succeed.
The Deputy Managing Director, Total E & P Nigeria Limited, Mr Nicolas Brunet, said the company has implemented several infrastructural projects like roads, electricity, potable water, schools and health centres as well as skills development training, and stated that the current level is aimed at promoting growth of entrepreneurship and job creation in the local economy.