The small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria can liberate the country from her current economic quagmire but lack the required investment and technology skills to achieve the feat, Head, United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) Investment and Technology Promotion Office, Bahrain, Dr. Hashim Hussein has said.
He said, for the economy to rebound, the federal and state governments, entrepreneurs and stakeholders, must play critical roles in ensuring enterprise development and requisite skills acquisition.
Hussein, who also heads the Enterprise Development and Investment Promotion, Bahrain, an initiative of the UNIDO ITPO, noted that no developed and developing economy could grow without vibrant SMEs, pointing out that if Nigeria was serious about development, it must begin to groom young entrepreneurs to develop the right skills that would secure the future of the economy.
“A lot of Nigerian small businesses can liberate the country from the claws of the current economic recession but are ignorant of certain investment and technology skills to achieve such feat. We won’t stop at the workshop, we are building business counseling structures to ensure small businesses are adequately mentored,” he said.
Hussein called on the federal government and stakeholders to invest massively in infrastructural and technological development in order to take Nigeria out of recession.
He however, noted that the challenge of the Nigerian business environment was not availability of finance but the access to funding by businesses.
In realisation of the lack of adequate enterprise development and investment skills in Nigeria, the UNIDO ITPO empowered entrepreneurs and government agencies by training them in the relevant areas at its first Enterprise Development and Investment Promotion workshop, which was concluded in Lagos on Friday.
The workshop, which was the first in Africa, was designed to develop capacity and foster enterprise and investment promotion through the development of first-rate business incubation management and counselling systems.
The Managing Director, MYO foods, Mr. Leye Lawal, called on the government to make funds available to MSMEs, adding that the country must pay attention to the production chain, from raw materials to finished goods, as a way out of the nation’s current economic challenges.
He stressed the need to strengthen Nigeria’s institution, adding that strong institutions and policy stability would, in turn, strengthen the economy.
“There is the need for a strong political will to end poverty. All around the world, politics is all about how jobs can be created because it is through jobs that people can better their lives,” he said.
Another facilitator, Mr. Afif Barhonmi, said, with the right regulatory, incentive framework, and the right frame of mind of entrepreneurs, the Nigerian economy could take a step forward in merging the goals of entrepreneurship development, youth empowerment/engagement, continuous economic diversification, industrial upgrading and technological innovation, to make the nation a more competitive brand in the continent and the world at large.
Participants agreed that developing the business growth cycle would require assistance schemes and policies, which would contribute to the transformation of the Nigerian economy and its integration.
The Director, Research and Innovation, UNILAG, Prof. Wellington Oyibo, described the workshop as timely, adding that it was the much-needed tool that could deliver the Nigerian economy from recession.
According to him, if both government and stakeholders do not join hands now to manage the entrepreneurs to excel, then the country would have destroyed the engine room of the economy.
He said, “Looking at the different models introduced/unveiled at the workshop, we have been able to craft what will work for us as a country.
“The workshop cuts across training the trainers; it helps us to begin to synthesise in our different spaces. We will use the robust discussion to calibrate across different fields because participants are from different fields.”