By Lydia Ngwakwe
Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) has awarded practicing licenses to 116 qualified Business Development Service Providers (BDSPs).
Dr Charles Odii, Director-General, SMEDAN, said this at the BDSPs Licencing Award ceremony organised by the agency on Wednesday in Lagos.
Odii said the practicing license would allow BDSPs to provide quality services to the Micro Small and Medium–sized Enterprises (MSMEs) in the country.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the BDSPs certification was in collaboration with Kaduna Business School, the Enterprise Development Centre, Pan Atlantic University.
The BDSPs are Nigerians from the entrepreneurial ecosystem across the country that have met the requirements to practice their profession in a particular jurisdiction.
This typically involves completing a certain amount of education and training, passing an examination, and maintaining good moral standing.
Odii said: “Today is a very big day for us at the agency because we awarded licenses to business development service providers and this is very important, and a response to the cry of small businesses in Nigeria.
“Many of them have different problems, just like you have sick patients and you have doctors, a couple of certified individuals need to go through rudimentary process to become certified to be able to attend to sick individuals.
“We have a staggering statistics that show that 70 per cent of small businesses die in the first three years and why do they die?, for many different reasons.
“So, what we have done as an agency is we have recruited a couple of people, they have gone through a scholarly process of training from the Enterprise Development Centre and Kaduna Business School, and then they’ve gotten a certification and their license then become our eyes and ears in all of Nigeria.
“So, their job right now is to go into the market, help small businesses thrive’’.
“In an effort to ensure a credible access to more affordable finance for MSMEs in Nigeria, the agency is partnering with an NGO, The African Centre for Global Entrepreneurial Leadership.
“This is to implement the Leadership Entrepreneurial Game Show, where successful participants will be given N5 million worth of grants and tools.
“The game show is on-going now and all existing and potential entrepreneurs are encouraged to log into www.legs.afrca for registration,’’ he said.
Odii hinted that the agency was partnering with selected banks to implement the Matching Fund Programme for MSMEs toward increasing access to finance.
This intervention, he said, was delivering credit as a promotional mechanism to enhance enterprise output, competitiveness and job creation..
According to him, prospective beneficiaries can have access to loans between N2. 5 and N500 million.
Odii urged all suitable qualified MSEs in the agribusiness sub-sector to apply via the SMEDAN website www.smedan.gov.ng.
Dr Dahiru Sani, Rector, Kaduna Business School, while taking them through the portal, said that the primary responsibility of the BDSPs would be to support MSMEs in terms of how they would be responding to the shocks of the recent policy issues.
Sani, also a member of the National Steering Committee for the Accreditation and Certification of the BDSPs in Nigeria, said, “Our expectations now are that they are going to give us what we call a buffer or mechanical shock absorber for the MSMEs.
“They are going to go round within their ecosystem, do a survey, find out about the challenges they face and try to see what kind of interventions will be required.
“Sometimes its financial, emotional resilience, technology support, access to market, the quality of people within the system.
“Sometimes it’s shifting the focus of the market from Nigeria to outside the country, sometimes it’s creating a bigger portfolio where you can earn in different currencies,’’ Sani said. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Olawunmi Ashafa