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Sweet takes from Ebonycakes Elihan and Catering Services

Sweet takes from Ebonycakes Elihan and Catering Services

In a country such as Nigeria, where Small and Medium Scale Enterprises contribute 48 percent of national GDP, account for 96 percent of businesses and 84 percent of employment, the sector certainly needs sustained support from the government to provide the enabling environment for it to succeed. This is more so, compelling because the sector contributes significantly to alleviating poverty and increasing job creation according to the Director-General, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria, SMEDAN, Dikko Radda as revealed in a media interview in early 2022.

Furthermore, at least, 39,654,385 micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) operated in Nigeria as of December 2020 as against 41,543,028 million that were in existence in 2017, indicating a decrease of 4.5 percent. This is contained in a report jointly released by the (SMEDAN) and the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in 2022. A breakdown of the figures showed that micro enterprises (MEs) accounted for 38,413,420 million, while the total number of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) stood at 1,240,965 million representing 3.1 per cent.

According to the report, MSMEs in Nigeria contributed 46.31 percent to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and accounted for 96.7 per cent of businesses. Also, MSMEs accounted for 6.21 per cent of gross exports during the year under review. But first, what are small and medium scale enterprises?

Micro enterprises have between 1 and 9 employees while small enterprises have between 10 and 49 employees and medium enterprises engage between 50 and 249 employees.

With specific regard to the market size of the food industry in Nigeria, it was revealed that revenue in the food market amounts to US$231.5bn in 2023. The market is expected to grow annually by 12.75% (CAGR 2023-2028). The market’s largest segment is the segment confectionery and snacks with a market volume of US$54.2bn in 2023.

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This situation has informed the decision to take a closer look at what the practitioners go through, with the aim to draw the attention of policy makers to do the needful. A recent interaction with one of those involved in the food sector of the SMEs paints a picture of the experiences they go through. This is reported as made available in her own words:

On her background:

“I am Ige Mary Awotubo (Mrs). I am the creative director of Ebonycakes Elihan and Catering, formally known as Ebonycakes and catering services. The business name was adjusted due to the CAC policy. It is located at No.10, Ogunyemi Street, Moshalashi, Alagbado, Lagos.

“I hold a National Diploma (ND) in computer studies. I worked in the defunct Dunlop Nigeria Plc and Dellic Electrical contracting company before i ventured into cake making and catering for events”.

On training programmes:

“Last year, I was able to attend some advanced classes based on baking and catering, which I count as great achievements for me. I have also been able to train 125 students online for free and onsite just to help some youths acquire profitable skills.

“It gives me great joy to know that I have been able to impart my knowledge on them and to know they are also practicing and utilizing it to better their lives. A lot of them are doing well and are now making money from the training. I am proud of the reviews I am getting from them. I am still willing to train more youths and impart to their lives positively”

On her services:

“I have provided catering services for events both big and small. I have cooked for Moniepoints several times, Gofamint, Worldlight Ministry, community parties and lots. I also render event decorations services.

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On responses from her customers:

“I have also been getting nice reviews from our customers. Such comments like “wow your work has advertised itself even without u talking” and many more.”

On her demands from the government:

“I will want the government to help us look into the hike in prices of raw material, which is affecting young entrepreneurs like us and also affecting the well-being of people, especially in the feeding area. Also, the government should empower me so as to teach more youths and help us have a better Nigeria”.

This is in line with the position of the Managing Director, Spectra Industries Limited, Mr. Duro Kuteyi, has unfolded the plans of his company to embark on training of other Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in food processing to broaden local food processing and manufacturing in Nigeria.

This, he said, would help address the problem of post-harvest losses and make seasonal crops available all year round. Kuteyi, called on the government at all levels to partner with his company to use food processing in resolving one of the major problems of the country, which is unemployment, as well as resolve the issue of food insecurity.

“In actual fact, insecurity and banditry have reached the level we are now because there are many idle hands who if gainfully engaged will not be interested in touting or engaging in banditry. As the good book says that the idle mind is the devil’s workshop,” Kuteyi said.

He has therefore, called on the federal government to come up with a policy that will help SMEs overcome financing challenges, insisting that no nation develops without paying adequate attention to SMEs.

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As reported, “Kuteyi decried the harsh business environment of Nigeria where SME operators are virtually left unprotected by government, exposed to unfair competition from multinationals, frustrated by harsh financing terms by banks, as well as multiple layers of tax and other sundry charges by various agencies of government.”

On a motivational note he stated that “good entrepreneurs should not wait for external funding before pursuing their entrepreneurial initiatives, stressing that the likes of Kuteyi, who started by just putting a pot on a burner to fry plantain chip has ended up having a world-class factory producing globally competitive brands that are today commanding both local and international patronage”.

It is therefore, kudos to Ige for the taking the first bold step forward.