James Emejo in Abuja
The federal government and Procter and Gamble (P&G) Nigeria have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to collaborate on a public-private partnership initiative to launch the SME Development Academy.
The agreement was signed between the Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Hajiya Aisha Abubakar, on behalf of the Federal Government while P&G Director, Government Relations, Africa, Temitope Iluyemi signed on behalf of the company.
The strategic partnership was expected to leverage the ministry’s SME Academy Programme, which aims at delivering structured skills training, advisory and mentoring activities and services for selected Nigerian owned SMEs within the academy scheme in order to enable better outcomes for communities, households and the country in general.
The minister said: “Today is an important day for us and for SMEs across the country. Today we signed an MoU with Procter and Gamble who has shown a lot of interest in giving back to society especially the Nigeria society. And they have been in Nigeria for over twenty years and they felt it necessary to support SMEs because they believe these are the people who are also their vital customers.
“For us on the side of government, of course we have over 38 million SMEs and the number is growing everyday as our children are graduating from universities looking for jobs that we are not able to provide: the best thing to do is to develop SMEs by giving them enabling environment and of course, to expand our private sector.
“This partnership is one that we hope will open up the space for SMEs to contribute to the development of this country and for them to also become employers of labour.”
According to her: “SMEs have proven to be an important part of our economy, hence the need to help them scale up and achieve more. This partnership with P&G could not have come at a better time.
“The ministry is pleased that this public private partnership will support the programme of the government to train SME Academy participants on key financial management principles and expose them to financial literacy, improve their access to finance and promote business ethics”.
However, Iluyemi said the objective was to give back to the country by enhancing the skills of SMEs to more competitive as well as able to operate on the global stage, being employers of labour, thereby contributing to the nation’s development.
She said: “This partnership demonstrates P&G’s commitment to be a force for good and a force for growth.
“We are committed to empowering SMEs and helping them get adequate skills for the success of their business. Our ultimate aim is to see small businesses grow and contribute to the overall growth of our nation’s economy.
“A lack of organisational capabilities is a major factor that can limit development in SMEs and we believe this is an opportunity to offer unique value towards the most pressing issues encountered by business owners.
“We believe very much that SMEs are the bedrock of any economy, so if we don’t develop them, then we are doing a disservice to our people.
The passion comes from the fact P&G itself started up with two SMEs in the US and today has grown into a conglomerate.
“We see the same vision for SMEs in Nigeria and we realise that we need to equip them with the right skills, knowledge and to upscale their skills to enable them be more competitive not only in Nigeria but also be competitive enough to operate on a regional as well as on a global scale.
“Procter and Gamble through various programmes and partnerships over the years collaborated with private and government organisations to empower and develop capacity of Nigerians through collaborative projects with organisations including the UNESCO, the Ministry of Education and other Women NGOS and foundations in different parts of the country.
“Through these projects, the company demonstrates its commitment to the country and its economic development.”