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March 4, 2024
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Stakeholders seek increased funding, market for SMEs

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By Rukayat Moisemhe

Some stakeholders have stressed the need for increased access to capital, technology and markets for the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to ensure global competitiveness.

They spoke at the Nigerian-Canadian Business Association (NCBA) Second Edition Business Roundtable, on Tuesday in Lagos.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the theme of the event was: “Enabling Growth by Unlocking Access to Capital, Technology, And Markets.”

NCBA, established in 2011, aims to promote bilateral business relationships between Nigeria and Canada to foster economic growth, educational advancement and cultural understanding, among others.

Mrs Ebi Obaro, Chairperson, NCBA, stated that the priority today was to empower SMEs on their path to success.

This, she said, was in acknowledgement of their crucial role in spurring innovation, job creation, and fostering prosperity in the business landscapes of Nigeria and Canada.

Obaro stated that by addressing these important factors, exceptional chances for growth and sustainability would be opened up.

“We understand that SMEs face difficulties in obtaining the funds required for expansion and innovation so I invite us to share ideas on how we can jointly establish a system that makes it easier for SMEs to access capital.

“Technology is drastically changing the future of business and holds a lot of potential for SMEs, so let us unlock access to technology and use its power to increase global competitiveness.

“Our goal is to explore the many ways in which we can harness technology to improve efficiency and productivity of businesses in both Nigeria and Canada to increase global competitiveness,” she said.

Franca Ciambella, Canadian lawyer and businesswoman, said Nigeria must begin to project its economic potential and change its negative perception globally to spur investment inflow and drive economic growth.

Ciambella who acknowledged the huge level of curiosity in Canada about Nigeria and the fact that Nigerians were doing so well in Canada, said there was still so much negative perception about the country.

According to her, this represents a disconnect about the true potential of Nigeria, a country filled with intelligent professionals, immense population, talents and skills.

“This is my acknowledgement that Nigeria is indeed a powerhouse particularly seeing that Nigerians in Canada are doing so well.

“However, the country can achieve more, and a message has to be sent out that things are being done about the energy, infrastructure, and other economic concerns,” she said.

Dr Chinyere Almona, the Director-General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), noted that in spite of the opportunities for SMEs across Africa, they largely remained uncompetitive due to some harsh economic conditions.

Almona, represented by Dr Sonnie Omeiza, Director, Trade Promotion Council, LCCI, called for policies, access to power, streamlined taxations to stimulate their growth and development.

She, however, urged SMEs to be more prepared and properly positioned to take advantage of these policies to be better competitive under the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

“There’s also the need for the conversation on awareness for these businesses to the available policies on ground and we must also help them strengthen their management structure to drive their sustainability,” she said.

Mr Babatunde Ajayi, Head, SME Business, United Bank for Africa (UBA), said the bank had identified agroprocessing, automotive, pharmaceuticals and transport and logistics as sectors that would drive economic growth.

Ajayi stated that the bank was committed to providing financial facilities for SME across those sectors, by providing funding facilities minimum of $2,500 and up to $150,000 in local currency to elevate businesses.

He, however, called for campaigns to drive awareness of SME policies to the grassroots to ensure their participation from government programmes and policies.

“Collaboration between government, trade association, banks and SMEs is important to drive access to export markets particularly the AfCFTA.

“There’s also the need to harmonise requirements across the African trade corridor to spur trade and economic development,” he said.

Mr Zubbi Nwosu, the Managing Director, GIZMOTECH Nigeria Ltd., said operational issues at the borders must be addressed for economic growth and development.

Newish also called for increased funding for SMEs, reduction in excise duty and government concentration on tackling illegal export.

Nwosu also urged government to address its spending problem, open up the ports, bring inflation down for Nigeria to grow through the roof.

“There’s also the need for digital marketing to spur market outreach for these SMEs,” he said. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)

Edited by Chinyere Joel-Nwokeoma

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