Many state governments have made appreciable strides in the development of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs). They have not only engaged in capacity building, but also provided funds and an enabling environment for them to thrive. Some of the SMEs, which were at the just concluded Lagos International Fair, acknowledged the efforts of their state governments but asked for more, especially in capacity building and funding, reports OKWY IROEGBU-CHIKEZIE.
Most state governments seem to have come to the conclusion that Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) are key to the economic growth of their states.
They came to the just-concluded Lagos International Trade Fair to showcase their SMEs activities.
For instance, the Commissioner for Commerce, Industry, Cooperatives and Empowerment, Ismaila Adekunle Jayeoba-Alagbada, told The Nation at the Fair, that the government has established four departments in the state Micro-Credit Agency for traders, artisans, agriculture and administration.
He said the government has also acquired 35 hectares of land to establish an academy for training unemployed youths.
He said the importance the government puts on reliable data for economic planning made it to embark on biometric registration of artisans and tradesmen.
To assist the SMEs to maintain standards and quality in manufactured products and to help buyers have value for their money, the government, he said, would soon launch standard weights and measures in all markets.
Jayeoba-Alagbada said the industrial sector was receiving a boost as the state is promoting industrilisation which has attracted private industrial investment to the state with the establishment of the Omoluabi Garment Factory, which, he said, had started production.
He said: “A Business Support Centre has been established in the state capital in collaboration with the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN). The core activities of the centre are the enhancement of the capacity of operators of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises and entrepreneurial development of unemployed graduates and youths in general. This is sequel to the development of industrial estates across the state.”
He revealed that the Osogbo Industrial Estate has been developed and allocated to entrepreneurs, saying the Ilesa Industrial Estate has adequate infrastructure. Plots in the estate are being allocated to industrialists while the development of industrial estates in seven other locations across the state is in the pipeline, he added.
On the government’s assistance to the SMEs, the Commissioner said the state government, in collaboration with the Bank of Industry (BoI), under the OSSG-BoI (MSME) Fund, provides financial support to cooperatives, industrial investors and operators of MSMEs.
He also said the industrialists have been supported with N445,878,000. Due to the importance the government places on SMEs’ clusters as a means of growth, he said the government has organised them into cooperatives.
He said: “The people have keyed into this mode of support as 10,509 cooperative societies have registered so far.”
Jayeoba-Alagbada, said the state government has adopted a holistic measure to ensure effective service delivery and partner private investors for power generation from waste. This is in addition to the on-going construction of an international cargo airport in Egbedore Local Government Area.
In commerce, he said the state has embarked on massive market development; construction has reached an advanced stage on two international markets – the Ayegbaju and Aje markets in Osogbo, the state capital and Ido-osun in Egbdore Local Government Area.
He said there were plans to establish an international market in Ikurin, the headquarters of Ifelodun Local Government Area.
However, the Chairman, Nigeria Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME), Mr Ali Alabi, said a lot still needed to be done, adding that most of his colleagues still have challenges in finance, power supply and succession.
He urged the government to study the Chinese model of supporting SMEs which is based on the Hand Holding Concept.
Alasbi said while in China the government makes provision for new businesses, it is not so either in Osun or the country. He called for a policy that would resustitate SMEs that have collapsed, noting that this was the only way the economy could grow. The Asian economy grew through the SMEs because of the government’s policy to support them, he added.
Alabi maintained that the government could also learn from India where every big firm is made to nurture 10 SMEs in its catchment area until they mature.
The NASME chief further revealed that the government policy’s in India also favours the patronage of small companies against conglomerates as they help sustain their growth by paying higher for their services and products.
He argued that until government embarks on such deliberate policies the SMEs will continue to struggle for survival.
Alabi canvassed capacity building for SMEs. This, he said includes learning new skills, marketing, book-keeping, management and also succession plan, noting that several small businesses have gone under because of the poor knowledge of management skills.
Managing Director, Dusco-Designers International, Mrs Olufunmilayo Ige, a manufacturer of hand bags, shoes and jewelry from Aso-oke and Ankara fabrics, said the state government still had a lot to do in making affordable finance available for SMEs. She decried the problems she and her colleagues face to access fund.
She said she was in need of finance to get industrial machines, but could not get it.
Another entrepreneur and Curator of Genesis Arts Gallery, Mr Adeyinka Fabayo, also asked for financial assistance from the government to purchase some capital-intensive machines, urging the government not to leave them in limbo.
Another entrepreneur, Mrs Iyabo Oyebamiji, who produces fabrics, also asked for funding to keep her business afloat. She said with enough capital, she and her colleagues could assist the government to create the much-needed employment for its teeming youths.
Also, Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibukunle Amosun reiterated his commitment to create an enabling environment for trade and commerce to thrive in the state.
Amosun, who was represented by the Deputy Governor, Prince Segun Adesegun, at the trade fair, said the administration would continue to act as a catalyst for economic activities for SMEs. He explained that the state government had put together an economic reform agenda aimed at correcting the structural weaknesses within the system and establishing an enduring framework for economic growth.
He promised to lay a solid foundation for a vibrant, research- driven mechanised farming and technologically-induced agro-based industry goals.
In his keynote address, the state Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Otunba Abimbola Ashiru, said the state government had concluded plans to set up cluster farm settlements, where producers, processors and other stakeholders in the food chain would be localised in different regions of the state to ensure cost-effectiveness, accessibility, visibility and synergy.
He said the administration was developing a relationship among ministries, departments and agencies of government towards evolving a holistic and integrated response that would guarantee sustainable progress and development.
Akwa Ibom State Governor, Godswill Akpabio, said he has instituted sectorial linkages for the economic development of the state.
He said at the Fair, “at present, modalities are being worked out to ensure that quality goods and services that meet International Standards Organisation (ISO) standards are produced in the state.
“This is an assured way of making our economy vibrant and sustainable to help boost the state’s economy and also ensure favourably in the international market.”
Akpabio, who was represented by the Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Mr Ufot Tobby Nkangude, harped on the need to harness the economic potential of his state and the country for development.
He said indigenous participation served as channels through which economic could be transformed to enhance the welfare of citizens.
He encouraged the exhibitors to compare notes with others and to start doing something irrespective of the size of their businesses today noting that government is poised to support them in material ways necessary.
The state stand had exhibitors who displayed cooking ingredients, such as ground crayfish, palm oil, groundnut oil, furniture and art works.
Others were detergents, handmade bags with local fabrics and locally, made blending machines.
One of the exhibitors at Akwa Ibom stand and Managing Director of Jekon Integrated Farms Nig. Ltd., Mr Godswealth Henry, producers of RIV Pam Red Palm Oil, said his outing was impressive.
“I am happy to be at the Lagos Trade Fair. The idea of the Akwa Ibom Ministry of Commerce bringing us to participate is being achieved and we commend our state governemnt for their support to the SMEs.
“We are into edibles, that is, adding value to farm products so that it meets international standards for export.
“Our presence at the fair is to get investors in Lagos to be able to evaluate the acceptance of the product when we start exporting them,” he said