The United Nations (UN) and other stakeholders called for increased participation of youths in Micro Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (MSMEs) to eradicate poverty and achieve UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs) by 2030.
The call was made on Wednesday, 27th of June 2018 in Lagos at an event tagged: “MSMEs Day 2018: The Youth Dimension. Speaking at the event, Mr Ronald Kayanja, Country Director, United Nations Information Centre, said MSMEs had been identified to be responsible for significant employment, income generation and fight against poverty; all goals of the SDGs.
He urged young people to take advantage of the various opportunities available to become entrepreneurs and contribute their quota to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the economy. “This event is to encourage youths to start their own businesses instead of waiting for white collar jobs which are becoming hard to come by these days.
Mr Orimadegun Agboade, President and Chairman of Council, Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprise (NASME), called for a review of the educational curriculum to acquire practical skills to avoid becoming emergency businessmen.
He said as part of the learning process in the higher institutions, a break where students in all disciplines were sent to business owners to understand the rudiments of running a business from start to finish was necessary. He said that provide adequate practical experience, which when adopted, would ensure sustainability and longevity of businesses.
He applauded the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund initiative and urged other States to adopt same to assist MSMEs to achieve growth and development. A representative of Mrs Oladunjoye Olayinka, Honourable Commissioner for Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives, Mr Alayande Olarenwaju, encouraged young entrepreneurs to develop their skills through vocational businesses, technical training and retraining programmes.
He urged stakeholders to come up with practical and sustainable solutions which would help transform the economy. Babatunde Ruwase, president, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) called for stable policies and regulatory environment that support the reforms on the ease of doing business in Nigeria. “Issues of taxation, trade and foreign exchange policies should be managed in line with international best practices.
“Government must continue to consider policies that facilitate trade, attract foreign investment and protect businesses from regulatory abuse,” he said. Mrs Zainab Hammaga, Director, Raw Material Research and Development Council, urged young entrepreneurs to be abreast of information to ensure that recent strategies are adopted to enable MSMEs to meet up with global standards of practice.
Michael Agidani of the Bank of Industries (BoI) reiterated the Bank’s pledge of financial and business support services to ensure the growth and development of start-up businesses. He advised that all documents be presented before the payment of the 10 per cent as collateral on loan by small business to ensure quick disbursement of loans.
Mr Sola Dauda, representative of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises in Nigeria (SMEDAN) urged business owners to take advantage of several initiatives to boost their businesses. He disclosed that in partnership with the European Union, over 12,000 Nigerian youths who returned from Lybia recently were being trained to run small businesses. Mr Saviour Iche, National president, Association of Micro- Entrepreneurs of Nigeria, called for the emergence of a Micro Enterprise Bank to assist the BoI in providing loans to small business owners.
He said some entrepreneurs needed as low as N20, 000 to start their businesses and the BoI was saddled with the responsibility of huge loans with stringent conditions which discouraged small entrepreneurs. He called on the BoI to speed up loan disbursements and abolish the 10 per cent upfront payment.