The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has urged the Federal Government to increase support to Small and Meduim Enterprises (SMEs) due to their importance to economic growth and development.
The LCCI Chairman, Trade Promotion Board, Mr Gabriel Idahosa, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday at the sidelines of the ongoing 2021 Lagos International Trade Fair ( LITF).
NAN reports that the 2021 fair is holding from Nov. 5 to Nov. 14 at the Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS), Lagos and has as its theme: “Connecting Businesses, Creating Value.”
Over 200,000 visitors are expected while about 1,500 exhibitors from 16 countries are participating in the 35th edition of the fair.
Idahosa noted that majority of the exhibitors in the trade fair were SMEs who see it as a huge opportunity to showcase their businesses and services to the world.
He said: “The SMEs constitute between 70 to 80 per cent of the economy. So, they are very critical and it is a major function of LCCI to empower and encourage the SMEs.
“Apart from having an SME group inside the LCCI, we have 26 sectorial group and each of these groups have SMEs which also get a lot of support.
“The SMEs are at the very core of everything the LCCI is doing and we even enable them to connect with the larger enterprises as suppliers and service providers.”
Idahosa commended the Federal Government for developing a framework to support SMEs called the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (SMEDA).
He said : “SMEDA is doing a lot of programmes targeted at SMEs. From empowerment to skills development and financing. That is growing.
“We also have the Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN). The entire capital of DBN is devoted to SMEs. DBN lends to microfinance banks which in turn lends to SMEs.
“The Central Bank of Nigeria itself has an SME programme. So there are a lot of programmes around the SMEs.
“The reason there is concern about the impact is that when you have over 40 million SMEs in the country as at the last count and you are having programmes reaching about five million, the impact will not be so obvious.
“So, there is still discussion that government needs to do more for SMEs by upscaling and increase the number of beneficiaries of all the programmes both at states and federal levels.
“Government needs to upscale by putting up more targeted numbers per local government or state and that is how more impact will be made.” ( NAN)