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Sustaining Small and Medium Enterprises for Nigeria’s Economic Growth

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The SMS &P team – Small and Medium Scale Businesses and Partners – is fully dedicated to supporting SMEs. The team works closely with Microsoft’s network of partners. Marius Moantsoga, SMS&P Lead for Microsoft Nigeria explains the role of SMS in the economy. He spoke to emeka okafor.

 The World Economy
  It is hardly necessary to make the point that we are in the midst of an economic downturn that has permeated markets worldwide. The issue dominates our government’s agenda and is splashed across our media. Few of us have failed to feel its impact directly. This downturn is truly a global issue and is proof—as if it were needed—that we live in a global village, where the ripples of one uncertain market can be felt across the world.

Nigeria has not been isolated from the impact of this recession. In fact, according to the 2008 African Economic Outlook published by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Nigeria’s growth rate is expected to fall to 4% in 2009 as a result of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ (OPEC) quota on oil production, as well as declining foreign investment.

In recent years there has been a strong focus on making Nigeria attractive to foreign investors and international corporations with the aim of spurring economic growth through imported expertise and capital. Inevitably there is some concern now as to how this economic climate will impact these growth factors.

However, the reality is that Nigeria’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs) account for 70% of the country’s industrial jobs and some 95% of its manufacturing activity. This is according to the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the OECD. As such, while we must be mindful of ensuring Nigeria remains an attractive prospect for foreign investment, it is vital that we remain committed to the growth and success of our own SMEs.

Sustainable Foundations
SMEs are the foundation for Nigeria’s sustained economic growth. They serve as an engine of job creation and skills development. Businesses built and nurtured in Nigeria utilise our local talent—both men and women—and encourage entrepreneurship and a culture of self-reliance. They also transcend different industries, spurring economic diversification and enabling the development of rural communities.

By creating an environment where people are encouraged to pursue their entrepreneurial ambitions, we can ensure that our talented citizens remain in Nigeria.

Challenging Times
Setting up a business and fostering its growth is a challenge in any economic climate. In today’s market conditions, just getting a business off the ground, let alone seeing it survive well into the future, is a daunting challenge.

According to the FATE Foundation, a Nigerian organisation developed to promote business and entrepreneurial development among Nigeria’s youth, rapid urbanization, coupled with a shrinking economy, has created an environment in which over 70% of the recent graduates who reside in urban areas are unemployed. While many of these graduates are eager to set up their own businesses, only a few have succeeded.

And the SMEs that are already up and running are finding it difficult to secure the credit they need to sustain their businesses in the face of reduced customer demand.

The reality is that the economic crisis requires us to take decisive steps to protect the years of economic growth we experienced. It is important to ensure that the progress made in creating an environment where such businesses could be set up and succeed is not undone.

The consensus across Africa is that SMEs will play a critical role in ensuring our survival through these times. In fact, the AfDB recently extended a US$100 million line of credit to Nigeria’s Intercontinental Bank so that Nigeria’s SMEs could access the money they need to sustain their operations.

Also, the African Commission just proposed partnering with the AfDB to establish a US$3 billion African Guarantee Fund to boost the development of SMEs in Africa. In the words of the Commission, such investment will unleash the power of African entrepreneurship by enabling young people to translate their good ideas into practical plans.

Our own government has likewise implemented a number of initiatives to support the development of SMEs. One is the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria, which works to establish business support centres and provide our SMEs with enhanced access to finance and management training

Another is the Small and Medium Industries Equity Investment Scheme fund, which requires all banks in Nigeria to set aside 10 percent of their annual after-tax profit for equity investment in small and medium sized business. Such initiatives are crucial to ensuring that funds are channelled to the businesses that need them most.

Taking Advantage of Technology
Entrepreneurs can also use the technology already at their disposal to surmount some of the challenges they face. It’s a fact that technology is effectively enabling individuals to set up and run a business from their homes.

Looking Forward
Enabling the success of our local SMEs is not just about facilitating Nigeria’s immediate economic recovery or ensuring long-term sustainable growth. It is also a vital element in seeing Nigeria compete on the global economic stage. The world’s greatest success stories all began as small enterprises, and some of the world’s most powerful nations, such as the United States, have been built on the strength of an entrepreneurial culture.

Among the many SMEs already in existence in Nigeria, or the budding entrepreneurs eager to set up new enterprises, there may well be the world’s next Bill Gates or Aliko Dangote. It is to Nigeria’s benefit, particularly in these tough times, that we continue to create an environment where such businesses are nurtured.

 


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Nigerians Pay Some N87m in Bribes to Public, Private Officials In 2023

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At least N87 million bribes were paid to Nigerian public and private officials in 2023, according to data from National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

Nigerians Pay Some N87m in Bribes to Public, Private Officials In 2023

NBS data also indicated that of all Nigerian citizens who had at least one contact with a public official in the 12 months prior to the 2023 survey, 27 per cent paid a bribe to a public official.

According to the Bureau, Nigerians’ confidence in the government’s anti-corruption effort has been declining over time and across regions.

“While in 2019, more than half of all citizens thought that the government was effective in fighting corruption, in 2023, the share declined to less than a third of all citizens.

“The downward trend in the citizens’ confidence is observable across the entire country, with all six zones recording reductions of more than 10 percentage points between 2019 and 2023 in terms of the share of citizens who thought the government was effective in fighting corruption,” it stated.


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12 Professors, 15 Others Inducted into Shell Sabbatical, Research Positions

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The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) Joint Venture has significantly expanded its educational initiatives by inducting 27 Nigerian academics and research interns.

12 Professors, 15 Others Inducted into Shell Sabbatical, Research Positions

A cross section of participants in the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) Joint Venture’s 2024 sabbatical and research programme in a group photograph with the leadership of SPDC’s Corporate Relations team at the induction ceremony held in Port Harcourt…recently.

This year’s programme, a 35% increase from the previous year, welcomed eight professors, four senior lecturers, and 15 other participants.

Held at the company’s headquarters in Port Harcourt, the induction ceremony marked the beginning of a one-year programme focused on knowledge exchange and skill development.

Drawn from 13 Nigerian universities, these participants will gain valuable industry experience in fields like biodiversity, petroleum engineering, and environmental impact assessment.

“The research and internship programmes are central to our commitment to supporting higher education in Nigeria,” explained Mr. Igo Weli, Shell Nigeria’s Head of Corporate Relations, and SPDC Director.

He described the programme as mutually beneficial nature by offering Shell access to specialised expertise from professors and lecturers, who in turn acquire practical industry knowledge and exposure to cutting-edge technologies.

Despite operational challenges, Mr. Weli reaffirmed Shell’s position as the industry leader in fostering a positive learning environment and empowering people.

Representing Mrs. Bunmi Edith Lawson, NNPC Upstream Investment Management Services, echoed Mr. Weli’s sentiments. She highlighted the programme’s significance in scientific exploration, environmental stewardship, and knowledge advancement.

“This is an investment in the next generation of innovators,” she stated, “and a way for us to give back to our stakeholders.”

The 2024 programme includes participants from a diverse range of universities across Nigeria, including the University of Benin, Rivers State University, University of Ibadan, Niger Delta University, and Ahmadu Bello University.

Others are Bingham University Karu, Federal University Wukari, University of Medical Sciences, Ondo State, Covenant University, Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu-Alike, Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo, University of Uyo, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, and Michael Okpara University of Agriculture.

 

 


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Ex Power Minister who Allegedly Stole N33Bn Gets N10Bn Bail

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Saleh Mamman, former minister of Power, who was charged for a N33 billion fraud by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has been granted bail.

Ex Power Minister who Allegedly Stole N33Bn Gets N10Bn Bail

During a sitting on Friday, at the Federal High Court in Abuja, Mamman was granted N10 billion billion with two sureties in like sum.

Issuing the verdict, James Omotosho, chief judge, held that the sureties must be owners of landed properties within the Federal Capital Territory with a minimum valuation of N750 million.

The judge stated that the sureties must swear an affidavit of means and submit their three-year tax clearance certificates, adding that certified copies of the defendant and sureties’ bank statements and their most recent passport photograph must also be submitted.

In addition, the judge directed the defendant to turn in his international passport to the court’s registrar, stating that the registrar must confirm every document before the defendant is allowed to leave custody.

The court further ordered that the defendant be held in jail until all bail requirements were fulfilled and that the sureties could provide a bank guarantee or bond of N10 billion. The case has been adjourned until September 25, 2024.

On Thursday, July 11, the judge ordered the remand of the former minister at the Kuje Prison after his not-guilty plea to all the 12-count charges preferred against him. His lawyer, Femi Ate, a senior advocate, however, told the court that a bail application had been filed on behalf of his client.

Although the judge stated the bail application had not yet made it into the court file, the lawyer representing the EFCC, Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika, also a senior advocate, admitted that the application had been received.

Meanwhile, the defendant had collapsed outside the courtroom before the hearing on Thursday but was revived with the help of his lawyers and some medical personnel at the court.

 


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