• Thursday, June 13, 2024
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SMEDAN, Footprint to Africa, partner to grow Nigeria’s SME sector

SMEDAN

In line with its mandate to promote the development of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the country, the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) is collaborating with Footprint to Africa, a foremost business and financial news resource and investment bridge company, to host the Nigeria SME Connect geared towards boosting the country’s SME sector.

The Nigeria SME Connect, an annual forum, will bring together Nigerian SME owners and their foreign counterparts who have an appetite for Africa in order to build partnerships, form joint ventures, find agents and distributors, expand their businesses and, ultimately, grow the Nigerian economy.

The partnership, which is also in consonance with Footprint to Africa’s mission of promoting the growth of SMEs, is coming through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between SMEDAN and Footprint to Africa recently.

At the MoU signing ceremony which held at the SMEDAN office in Abuja, Dikko Umaru-Radda, director-general, SMEDAN, reiterated the role of MSMEs as the engine of economic growth, saying the partnership with Footprint to Africa was apt as it was in line with the President Muhammadu Buhari administration’s desire to diversify the economy away from oil.

“The MSMEs hold the key to the future of our economy and I truly believe that our partnership with Footprint to Africa will give global entrepreneurs the right opportunity to meet and partner with SME business owners in Nigeria to foster strong business relationships,” Umaru-Radda said.

Also speaking, Osita Oparaugo, managing director, Footprint to Africa, expressed confidence that the partnership would signal the beginning of a new Nigeria where SMEs would truly drive economic growth.

He explained that Nigeria offers a large and vibrant market, an abundance of natural resources, a cheap, dynamic and well-educated workforce, investor-friendly government policies and a strategic location with access to serve the African market, urging both local and foreign SMEs to tap into these rare opportunities to grow their businesses.

“Nigeria is currently on track to become one of the 20 largest economies in the world by 2020. With a robust private sector, the country boasts of a large market with an unrestricted movement of investment capital. There is no better place to be today than Nigeria. If you are not in Nigeria, you are not in Africa yet,” Oparaugo said.

Briefing journalists after signing the MoU, Oparaugo further explained that under the terms of the agreement, SMEDAN would provide the institutional support in promoting the activities of the Nigeria SME Connect, which, he said, was capable of creating 10,000 jobs by the end of 2017 as partnerships between local and foreign SMEs lead to increased economic activities.

Part of this, he informed, was that SMEDAN would screen and register at least 20 SMEs in each of the 36 states of the federation and Abuja, who would attend the SME Connect forums, saying the essence was to holistically develop SMEs across the country and not just in a few states.

The first two forums scheduled for February 2017, Oparaugo said, would focus on agriculture and real estate sectors, with a special focus on manufacturers and dealers in building materials, adding that the choice of these sectors was informed by the huge opportunities they hold.

“The agricultural sector presents a $1.2 billion opportunity and given Nigeria’s 17 million housing unit deficit, the building sector presents an annual revenue-generating opportunity valued at over $10 billion,” he said.

“Thankfully, President Buhari has expressed his dedication and commitment to encouraging policies and programmes that would enable Nigeria become a preferred investment destination,” he added.

On what participating SMEs stand to gain, Oparaugo said the Nigeria SME Connect forum would offer every participant an unparalleled access to the teeming Nigerian market as well as the West African market’s large consumer base currently valued at over 340 million consumers.

Beyond the forum, however, he said the Nigeria SME Connect would equally provide a mentoring platform for SMEs on an ongoing basis.

 

CHUKS OLUIGBO