Footprint to Africa, a leading pan-African investment bridge has announced the launch of the Nigeria SME Connect 2017, her flagship event organized in partnership with the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), a government agency established to promote and facilitate the development of the MSME sub-sector of the Nigerian economy.
The Nigeria SME Connect series seeks to connect small and medium scale business owners with viable partners to enable them further their business goals, increase their market access, form joint ventures, expand their businesses and, ultimately, grow the Nigerian economy.
Dikko Umar, Director General, SMEDAN, reiterated the role of MSMEs as the engine of economic growth, saying the partnership with Footprint to Africa was apt as it was in line with President Buhari’s desire to diversify the economy away from oil.
“The MSMEs hold the key to the future of our economy and I truly believe that our partnership with Footprint to Africa will give entrepreneurs the right opportunity to meet and partner with other SME business owners to foster strong business relationships,” he said.
An official statement released by the organisers, Footprint to Africa, stated that the maiden event themed, ‘Collaboration and Access to Foreign Market’, will focus on the agricultural sub-sector of ‘Processing and Packaging’
‘In line with this present administration’s program to diversify the economy, the agricultural sector has garnered much clout in recent months and for this event, we decided to shed the spotlight on, what is arguably regarded as the most important sub-sector – processing and packaging. With adequate mechanisms in place, proper systems for packaging and processing can drastically reduce post-harvest losses as well as increase market access and earnings of agricultural producers’, the statement reads
Speaking to members of the press at the unveiling event, Elakeche Abutu, Project Coordinator of the event said, ‘This event focuses on the difference between recording painful losses after harvest and preserving bountiful harvests, increasing revenue for producers and exporting these produce to increase market access and generate even more revenue for them. It is not enough to plant and harvest, consider how we can mitigate post-harvest losses, consider how we can process the produce we harvest to sell, consider also, how we can penetrate neighbouring and international markets. These are the issues this event would address’
The event is organized with the aim of empowering SMEs with adequate and requisite knowledge to enable them process and package their products adequately for export. The event will also educate and provide attendees with tools to enable them facilitate the export of their products.
Some of the speakers include Jennifer R. Diaz, a Florida-board certified international attorney and George Lakis, a European project development and finance expert. Ms. Diaz will give tips and assist with issues relating to export of merchandise to the USA. Mr. Lakis will also offer attendees tips on how to suitably prepare their products for exports to the European markets. He would also connect some attendees to contacts that could profit their respective businesses
During the press conference unveiling this year’s theme, Osita Oparaugo ESQ, Managing Director, Footprint to Africa said, ‘The theme of this year’s forum was conceived to mitigate the effects of our current economic predicament in the country. We believe that the time has come to look inwards and empower the SMEs to help revive this economy. We believe this forum can empower SMEs to expand their businesses beyond the shores of Nigeria by creating the right access channels to Europe and North America’
He added, ‘We are excited about our partnership with SMEDAN as the agency is keen to see the aggressive development of the MSME sector in Nigeria. This strategic partnership is in line with our mutual objectives and we believe our set roadmap will yield profitable results for Nigeria.
Nigeria SME Connect: Collaboration and Access to Foreign Market is set to take place at the Landmark Event Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos on the 23rd of November 2017. The event would consist of panel discussions, breakout sessions and product exhibition.
Footprint to Africa has named Bosch, Google, Heritage Bank, Diamond Bank, Pan African Capital PLC and Smile telecommunications as this year’s co-sponsors. At the event, Bosch will launch its ‘Lease to Own’ program which would give SME business owners in Nigeria the opportunity to own Bosch machines that have proven efficient and durable by global standards`
Google will provide ICT training for attendees and give a lecture on using technology to increase export potentials and market access. Smile will provide free WiFi for the event, accessible by all attendees of the event.