Fostering Innovation-driven Economy with Vibrant MSMEs

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INDUSTRY ANALYSIS

Jonathan Eze attended the exclusive fair organised by the Lagos State Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives and writes that small businesses are very crucial to job creation, economic diversification, creativity and income redistribution

The nation needs the micro small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) because they contribute meaningfully to economic development.  They are in the forefront of output expansion, employment generation, income redistribution, promotion of indigenous entrepreneurship and production of primary goods to strengthen industrial linkages.

These were the views and submissions of the Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode and the Commissioner for Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives, Prince Rotimi Ogunleye, at the opening ceremony of the second Lagos State Micro Small and Medium Enterprises Exclusive Fair during the week at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Surulere.

The fair according to the stakeholders, was a marketing intervention aimed at propelling the global visibility, productivity, and profitability of MSME’s.

Represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Tunji Bello, Ambode noted that the conscious development of the MSME sub-sector is the best route to the revival of the nation’s economy and the catalyst of industrialisation drive contributing significantly to employment, wealth creation and poverty alleviation.

 According to him, “My government decided to give a great deal of attention to this sector and I am happy to see that this year’s edition of the MSME’s fair is bigger than last year’s with more participants. “The theme: ‘Unleashing the potential of MSME’s for Economic Diversification’, throws a challenge to all players, both public and private. We must all look inwards and develop the internal and external capacities of our local non-oil MSME’s for steady growth and global competitiveness.”

 He added that the four-day fair would match up local small-scale industrial giants with business development support providers, financiers and investors from the private sector, public regulatory support agencies at the state and federal levels, as well as foreign economic development institutions.

 Ambode, however, lamented that the sector’s competitiveness was weakened by limited access to credible, customised business support on the one hand and inability to penetrate local and expanded markets, on the other.

He underscored the need to build strong public-private support systems that would enhance the capacity of the MSME sector for economic diversification.

To achieve this, Ambode promised to implement enterprise-friendly policies and develop the critical infrastructure that would enhance the productivity and competitiveness of all businesses in Lagos State, adding that, its employment trust fund had approved N4.5 billion for 5,527 MSME’s.

He charged the exhibitors to take full advantage of the platform of the exclusive fair and e-commerce to launch their products to a globally competitive level in other to penetrate expanded markets.

On his part, the host commissioner, Ogunleye submitted that Lagos State is the largest hub of MSMEs and the economic nerve-centre of Nigeria accounting for 3,224,324micro and over 11,663 small and medium enterprises that are significantly boosting the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), generating employment and creating sustainable enterprises, and accelerating value-added industrialisation.

He noted that in spite of their importance, the small but giant economic catalysts have not been able to expand their market frontiers owing to limited access to credible customised-business support, on the one hand, and inability to penetrate local and external markets, on the other hand.

Therefore, he urged the need to strengthen existing public-private business support ecosystems, hence, the creation  of the MSMEs Exclusive Fair, which had its maiden outing in May 2016, as a marketing intervention and business development support  programme for enhancing the global visibility, competitiveness, profitability and sustainable growth of MSMEs in Lagos State.

According to the commissioner, the Fair was conceived to foster an innovation-driven private-sector economy actively dominated by the vibrant MSME operators.  “The first edition, which attracted over one hundred and fifty indigenous small-scale entrepreneurs, recorded a landmark success which we are leveraging on today.

 “Our partnership with Konga Online Shopping Limited, which resulted in the enlistment of the exhibitors on the company’s e-commerce platform, yielded quantum increase in sales, not only during the Fair period, but also afterwards in terms of improved turnover and profit margins.  Also, several MSMEs were able to gain linkages with other strategic partners, majorly comprised of State and Federal regulatory and support agencies, a strategy that has significantly helped to reduce their costs and time of doing business.”

On the exhibitors, Ogunleye revealed that the entrepreneurs displaying their products and services at the fair have been carefully selected based on the innovativeness, quality and marketing appeal of their brands.

“Over the next six days, the MSME Exclusive Fair will open its doors to consumers, investors and visitors to appreciate and patronise the array of exclusively Made in Lagos brands ranging from Finished Leather Goods; Food & Beverages; Textile, Fashion & Accessories, Household & domestic Products, Health, Fitness & Lifestyle Products, to Arts & Crafts and many more.

In the same vein,  the fair brought  together future budding multinational MSME operators with financers and business development support providers from the private sector and relevant State and Federal Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) as well as foreign economic development institutions. Notably, were agencies such as Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi (FIIRO), Technology Incubation Centre (TIC), Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON), National Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Research and Development (R&D) departments in our higher institutions in the State to serve as catalyst to the growth of MSME’s in the state.

The commissioner charged all stakeholders in the MSMEs sub sector to continue to come up with ingenious inventions and innovations while also urging them to avail themselves of opportunities that would be provided by the MDAs that will manage the business clinic which have been made an intrinsic part of the fair.

He enjoined all to demonstrate the renewed confidence in the State and by extension the Nation’s economy by showing their commitment and support to the sustenance of economic activities in the State.

His words: “The State needs your support to achieve the goal of economic recovery in the face of the global economic realities. By believing in these local entrepreneurs and patronising them, we are building and strengthening their capacity and in effect improving their contributions to the GDP. I urge all of you to look inward and purchase Made in Lagos; Made in Nigeria brands, he concluded.

Earlier, the Chairman House Committee on Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives, Honourable Oladele Adekanye, noted that in the past, MSMEs in Nigeria had been characterised as essentially back non-assignment in the development of the National economy with little or no attention paid to them in spite of their potential as bedrock of socio-economic development.

 He argued that Lagos State is one of Nigeria’s most endowed economies and has lots of business opportunities with an abundance of highly-skilled set of human resources. “But the bane of most MSMEs is the inability to finance their operations and growth needs. Now, more than ever before, we as a State and Nation must step up our actions towards supporting the profitable growth of our small enterprises.

He thanked the governor for introducing the numerous decisive innovative interventions aimed at enhancing the capacity of the small-business sector so that its members could actively contribute to national development and economic recovery.

He also commended the drive and passion of the leadership of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives, over which his team play oversight functions.

“This Fair, which has become an annual series, is a testament to the Ministry’s steadfastness in growing the MSME sector, in particular and the business environment in general.

In her goodwill message, the President of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Nike Akande, urged the gathering to purchase ‘Made in Lagos products. According to her, “There is no better time to scale up this campaign than now. The bitter lessons of the collapse of oil output and the skyrocketing naira exchange rate dictate that we should look inwards. Therefore, the purchase ‘made in Lagos ‘campaign is clearly in consonance with the spirit of building a self-reliant economy.”