Amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has battered the Nigerian economy, experts have called on the government to provide adequate support for operators of micro, small and medium scale enterprises (MSMEs) to enable them significantly contribute to the country’s economic rebound post-pandemic.
Speaking at a webinar of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) pre-summit themed ‘The Pandemic and Nigeria MSME’s: Impact, Priorities and Strategies’ Wonu Adetayo, executive director at Kainos Edge Consulting Limited who doubles a NESG board member said that the MSMEs play a significant role in the country’s economic system and employs 71 percent of the country’s workforce.
“With sustained efforts from the private sector, active collaboration with the government and the citizens, Nigeria’s MSME ecosystem will be able to draw the required investments that will make them a major contributor to economic development in the national interest,” Adetayo said.
In a panel session, Bunmi Lawson, CEO, Edfin Microfinance Bank, urged MSMEs operators to incorporate innovations and adopt new strategies to enable them to adopt the new normal enforced by the outbreak of the pandemic.
She added that the use of technology and digitalization is pertinent in line with the new trend that entrepreneurs must leverage to grow their businesses.
She also urged the government to provide palliatives to cushion the impact of the pandemic on businesses such as tax cuts, improved infrastructure, and reduction in interest rates among others.
“There is a need to ensure the survival of MSMEs by exploiting innovative ways, there is also a need to encourage MSMEs to make use of online platforms to grow their businesses. Interest rates should also be reduced and loans made more secure.” Lawson explained.
Teju Abisoye, executive secretary, Lagos State Employment Trust Fund, said the government on its part is working on rolling out various recovery methods for businesses despite the drop in its revenues.
He added that the virus outbreak has forced the government to shift its motive of generating jobs to retaining jobs during the period.
“Some sectors were more hit than others in the course of the pandemic, therefore we are helping sectors such as the tourism and hospitality sector and the education sector, that has been seriously affected by providing access to affordable financing and renewing loans for previous loan beneficiaries,” Abisoye said.
Similarly, Umma Aboki, executive secretary, Kaduna Investment Promotion Agency, said the Kaduna government is making efforts to ensure the survival of the MSMEs through the provision of funds and technological advancement among others.
“We are clustering MSMEs to get access to finance, we are also providing mortgage to businesses, developing e-commerce initiatives and providing tax incentives to the hospitality and agric sector to help cushion the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Aboki said.
Giving recommendations to the sustainability of small businesses, Degun Agboade, president, Nigeria Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME) noted that the survival of MSMEs is very important to economic growth however it requires inputs from the government.
“MSMEs need help to bounce back and the government can help by providing grants not loans, furthermore, the government should put a hold on interest rates for six months. Also, they should be supported with government patronage of their various products” he advised.