Lack of Business Devt Services Bane of MSMEs, Says Katagum

Mariam Yelwaji Katagum

By James Emejo and Folalumi Alaran

The Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mrs. Mariam Katagum, has said lack of access to affordable and credible business development services remains one of the major challenges militating against the growth and development of MSMEs in the country.

Speaking at the official inauguration of the National Steering Committee (NSC) of the National National Business Development Services Providers (BDSPs) Certification and Accreditation Framework in Abuja, she however, described the regulation as a step in the right direction, towards building a critical mass of BDSPs, which can now attend to millions of MSMEs to achieve government’s vision for the MSMEs sub-sector.

The minister pointed out that the ministry is currently saddled with the responsibility of overseeing the development of the MSMEs sub-sector in the country,

Citing the national survey on MSMEs, which was conducted by the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) in 2010 and subsequently in 2013, in partnership with the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Katagum said there were 17.3 million MSMEs employing about 32.4 million persons and contributing 46.54 per cent to nominal GDP.

The report further revealed that there were 37 million MSMEs, employing 59.7 million persons (representing 84.2 per cent of the labour force and contributing 48.47 per cent to nominal GDP and 7.27 per cent to exports.

According to her, the most recent survey in 2017 further demonstrated that there were 41.5 million MSMEs, employing 59.6 persons (representing 76.5 per cent of the labour force and contributing 49.78 per cent to GDP and 7.64 per cent to exports.

She said: “These staggering statistics cannot be ignored in any serious economy. If properly harnessed, MSMEs can trigger an entrepreneurial revolution in industrialisation, agriculture and commerce in Nigeria.

“In recent times, the start-up ecosystem has received a lot of attention globally for its role as economic catalysts. A lot of emphasis has been put on the MSMEs segment, leading to the creation of departments which have now become part of the strategic focus of financial institutions, multilateral agencies and economic planners.”

The minister said SMEDAN had in the past three years, worked assiduously with its development partner, MAFITA, a UKaid funded intervention in Nigeria, to develop the BDSPs, that will provide professional support to MSMEs in the country.

According to her, the accreditation will help set, structure and systemise standardised curriculum for the deployment of relevant business development services for all functional areas of any small business.

“This suite of services is the panacea for the myriad of challenges most small businesses face in the country, she added.

She said the framework will also “help in the formation of a new generation of professionals that would want to make a career out of strengthening the ecosystem.”

She added that the certification will see prospective participants going through training, assessment and portfolio development, for those who have not yet had any transactional history of working with small businesses.