The Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Nigeria’s lead agency in the promotion of non-oil export has advised Aba entrepreneurs, especially finished leather and garment makers, to formalize their businesses to be competitive in the global market.
Olusegun Awolowo, executive director/chief executive officer of NEPC, gave this advice Wednesday in Aba, Abia state, at a capacity building/meeting on “Enhancing small and medium entrepreneurs (SMEs) activities for post-COVID-19 exports, organised by the council’s Aba office.
He urged them to be proud of their products, by embossing their logo and made-in-Nigeria trademarks on their products, rather than imprinting foreign logo on their products, thereby promoting foreign labels.
According to Awolowo, who was represented at the forum, by Arnold Jackson, a deputy director, and regional coordinator, South-East, NEPC, Aba entrepreneurs are doing great things and have contributed immensely to the economic development of Nigeria.
He advised Nigerians to patronize homemade goods to sustain the country’s economy.
In his words, “Somebody told me about a Nigerian, who went to Dubai to buy a pair of shoes and the person selling the shoes, asked him, where are you from? And he said Nigeria and the seller said but this shoe is from Nigeria”.
He observed that coronavirus pandemic has come to reset the mindset of the people and the economy, noting that non-oil export is the way to go, not crude oil.
“It has created another window for us to evaluate and add value to our products to be competitive.
“We have seen that SMEs, which you all represent has been the bedrock of any economy, and what you people do is commendable.
“This is the real sector of the economy and this is what will drive the 21st-century economy, not crude oil. Like Americans will say crude oil is a lazy man’s business, but could that be said in Nigeria, no, because everybody is fighting over oil blocks. But the major economies in the world are saying that oil is a lazy man’s business.
He continued, “SMEs cannot be ignored in any economy. If SMEs seize to exist the economy cannot stand. No matter the quantity of crude oil you have. And that is why SMEs are important and valuable to us.
“And that is why we do what we do for SMEs in Nigeria to make the sector competitive”.
He advised entrepreneurs to work smart and not work hard. “Working smart according to him means adopting technology in information gathering, as well as in driving sales.
Roslyn Ekanem, an assistant director and trade promotions advisor, NEPC Aba office, explained that the forum was put together to discuss what can be done to improve non-oil export and production for export, after COVID-19.
She advised SMEs in Abia state, particularly, Aba, to key into NEPC programmes to improve their businesses to continue to contribute to the development of Nigeria’s economy.
“I have heard so much about Aba, but up till now our activities are still informal and there is no much data to talk about achievements of Aba SMEs”.
Consequently, she advised Aba entrepreneurs to formalize their businesses to be competitive in the global market.