Strategic referrals among the nation’s small, medium and large enterprises generated about ₦700 million additional income for the companies in 2014, Chimaobi Agwu, the National President of The Business Networking International (BNI), said on Tuesday.
BNI is a business networking and referral organisation.
According to the organisation, global business networking and referrals also generated $8.3 billion (₦1.62 trillion) in 2014.
Agwu said referrals and networking were the soul of businesses, especially in the service sector, the hub of Nigeria’ huge economic growth potential.
“At the last count, we were made to know that there are about 17 million SMEs across the country, and of course, there are also large corporations too.
“What keep businesses are referrals. The high rate of unemployment has caused an increase in the number of businesses we have, and it is only logical that there is hardly any business idea that will be new.
“This goes to tell us the importance of referrals and networking which is a cheaper means of advertising as many startups do not have the means to make their businesses known.
“In Nigeria alone according to our research, networking and referrals helped to generate more than ₦700 million for Nigerian businesses, and up to 8.3 billion dollars across the world.
“This is why we urge business owners, especially those who are new into an existing market to leverage on networking with other entrepreneurs and also joining relevant organisations.”
Agwu noted that the accurate volume of referrals and many other activities in the services sector were one of those that have not been captured effectively over the years.
He said the BNI would be celebrating its 30th anniversary in October as part of efforts to create awareness for networking and referrals in the business community.
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in its recently launched 2015 Development Report stated that the services sector had not been adequately researched and reported.
According to the report, some aspects of the sector largely included networking and outsourcing, real estate, transport and ICT hold great potential to boost the growth of African economies.