Statistics show that Nigeria has over 30 million small and medium scale businesses, spread across several manufacturing and services sectors of the economy. They also play a critical role in the economy as they account for 80 percent of Nigeria’s total employment.
However, many of these promising SMEs do not have the requisite resources to grow into reputable businesses and therefore struggle to access international markets.
Osita Oparaugo, President of Footprint to Africa Limited, however, believes that collaborations and networking would go a long way in enhancing the prospects of SMEs within the country as well as open them up to foreign markets.
Mr Oparaugo made this known at the Inaugural Nigeria SME Connect, an event designed to foster collaborations and access to foreign markets for promising Nigerian SMEs.
“The world is driven by SMEs. This networking goes beyond access to the market. It is to expose business owners to profit and skills management and set Nigeria on the right track,” he added.
“In today’s economy, collaboration and exports are germane. That is, to connect small and medium scale business owners with viable partners so as to further their business goals and expand their operations and reach beyond Nigeria shores,” he said.
The event was convened by Footprint to Africa and SMEDAN, and was sponsored by Bosch, Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF), and Diamond Bank.
Dr. Jumoke Oduwole, the Special Adviser to the Government on Trade and Investment, who spoke at the event revealed that the government, in a bid to address lingering problems facing SMEs, would scale up access to credit, efficiencies, and further improve on its ease of doing business initiatives.
“The present administration is providing an enabling business environment with appropriate policies, infrastructure and information technology to identify with SMEs,” she said, adding that two bills had already been signed into law to enhance access to credit facility for Nigerians business owners.
Dr. Dikko Umaru Radda, the Director-General, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), believes that technology, particularly digital marketing and social media, have become useful tools for business networking and product marketing, and would assist small businesses in accessing foreign markets.
he added that the agency was exploring innovative ways and measures to improve the competitiveness of small businesses, one of which he said is the SME Connect programme which he believes will enhance the exposure of SMEs to opportunities outside the country.