James Emejo in Abuja
The 13th edition of the Abuja International Trade Fair (AITF) will seek to stimulate Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to enhance their contribution to economic growth and empowerment, the organisers have said.
The annual exhibition which is organised by the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) is scheduled to commence from September 21-29 at the Abuja International Trade Fair Complex.
The Director General of ACCI, Mrs. Tonia Shoyele said this year’s fair had been themed: “Remodelling SMEs Financing: Options and Solutions,”, to highlight the importance of small businesses to economic prosperity.
Speaking at a media briefing, she noted that the country is currently 80 per cent SMEs- based, which was why the fair has decided to have 100 per cent focus on the sector.
She said the exhibition would feature among other things, a round-table where development finance institutions would have to attend and tutor participating SMEs on how to access financing to help their businesses.
She also said going forward, the country needed to evolve a clear policy on SMEs.
Shoyele said: “I am sure you all know a typical SMEs wants money from the bank and it’s asked to go and bring an arm and a leg.
“We are looking at a totally different way of running this. Could there be some level of equipment leasing so that even the money does not get into the hands of these SMEs.
“Trust me, someone that hasn’t seen a million naira before, you give him five million will go back to the village and tend to want to marry another wife.
“But if you ask whoever what do you want to do, is it a bakery get all the necessary equipment…that’s the model we are trying to promote and we hope that at the end of this round table that we would be able to achieve that.”
Also, Vice-President, Commerce, ACCI, Mr. Johnson Anene said SMEs represented the engine room for the growth of the economy, stressing that though the exhibition was not neglecting other big conglomerates,” but our focus is mainly on SMEs because of the importance and role it plays in the national economic development.”
He said the fair will acquaint SMEs with the several financing programmes of the federal government as well as way through which they could benefit from them.
He said with an upgraded and better facilities, he said the chamber was ready “to host an international trade fair that can challenge any international trade fair in the world.”
Anene said:”We expect a lot of foreign exhibitors, expatriate visitors to exhibit their goods or take part in other programmes lined up to go alone the fair.