Ogun’s Milestone in SMSEs Promotion

By Femi Ogbonnikan

Ogun State government, Tuesday, recorded another significant milestone in its effort to promote the entrepreneurial capacity of its people at the 2nd edition of the national Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) clinic held in Abeokuta, the state capital . The initiative saw the Federal Government granting 200 Exhibitors a cash reward of N150,000, while an additional 200 shop owners at Adire International market also earned N100,000 each.
The Vice President, Senator Kashim Shettima, made this announcement at the June 12 Cultural Centre, Kuto, Abeokuta, venue of the event. The gesture aligns with the overall objective of the host governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, to promote home-grown business as a catalyst for industrial development. As studies have shown, Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are crucial for local economic development, playing a major role in job creation, poverty alleviation, and economic growth.

In all economies of the world, developed and underdeveloped, SMEs contribute heavily to the development of various sectors such as manufacturing, agriculture, and ICT services. Indeed, there is a reciprocal relationship between an SME and the economy. Development in the economy ensures the creation of more SMEs. The creation of more SMEs ensures a boost in the economy. They are the backbone of the economy, contributing to job creation, economic growth, and community development. Small businesses employ millions of people worldwide.

Therefore, the event could not have come at a better time than now when the nation’s economy is in its most trying period, grappling with poverty, inflation and rising youth unemployment. By prioritizing the development of SMEs, not only that the government intends to boost employment generation, but also ginger small businesses to foster economic growth in their communities. This job creation in turn improves individuals’ livelihoods but also enhances the overall economic well-being of the local area.

These are part of the motivation for organising national Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) clinics. The Vice President, speaking further on the significance of the event, said the MSME clinic would serve as a bridge between the people and the government, adding that it would serve as lifeline for enterprises in the state and the country as a whole.

He said: “Each exhibitor present at the clinic today stands to gain from our MSME instant grant of N150,000 each, courtesy of our esteemed private sector and His Excellency, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

“I hereby announce that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has directed that almost 200 new applications within this market be granted free of charge to small business traders for one year and each of them should enjoy a grant of N100,000.”

In acknowledgment of the transformation that has taken place under the leadership of Governor Abiodun, Senator Shettima described Ogun State as the industrial powerhouse of the nation, noting the support and commitment of his administration to the Federal Government’s efforts to promote enterprises and empowerment of the people.

He said his coming to Ogun State signified the need to support businesses and transform ideas into commercially viable ventures, saying the 2nd phase of the Expanded SMSME Clinics was a strategic intervention to fortify the foundation of small businesses, which commenced in Benue State early this year. “The clinics serve as a link between the people and government. Small Businesses are now afforded platforms to present their business challenges, and seek timely intervention of monetary agencies all in an attempt to eliminate the task of navigating from one agency to another in their efforts to build the next unicorn out of Africa,” Shettima said.

The Vice President thanked Governor Abiodun for supporting the Federal Government to bring the nation’s economy back on track. On his part, Abiodun disclosed that his administration had launched the Small and Medium Enterprises Industrial Land Acquisition Scheme (SILAS), stating that the scheme was a 1,000-Hectare Industrial hub provided with needed amenities like good roads, and power, among others.

“The SME Park is aimed at providing incentives to SMEs way below the market rate. There will be many incentives through industrial ownership and accelerated processing of their CoOs which can be used as collateral for further financing.

“Other benefits of the park will include rebates on taxes and levies such as Land Use Charges (LUC), building permits, land processing fees, etc. This park will cover agro-allied, agro-processing, home and personal care building materials and chemicals, food processing,” the governor said.

To support the federal government in repositioning the nation’s economy, Governor Abiodun said the State would offer incentives like conditional grants of N100,000 to 10,000 MSMSE, N500,000 given to 2,000 SMEs, and N50,000 to 5,000 market women in the State.

The Vice President had earlier commissioned the Modern Adire Shared Facility at Adire International Market Asero, and the National MSME Clinics, Ultra-Modern Fashion Hub, Ajebo Road all in Abeokuta.

According to him, the Clinic would allow small business owners to meet regulatory bodies like the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), and others as well as feature grant presentations to qualified MSMEs.

The Vice President also inaugurated the Fashion Hub project at the Old OGTV auditorium where over 150 state-of-the-art tailoring equipment have been provided for stakeholders in the fashion industry as well as the Adire shared facility at Asero, Abeokuta.

Tuesday’s event merely added to what the Abiodun administration already had in the plan for the sustainable growth of Ogun State as a preferred investment destination. So, it is not a one-off thing. Several other notable endeavours aimed at fostering the development of manufacturing industries as well as small and medium-scale businesses have been initiated and implemented based on an integrated master plan already put in place by Governor Abiodun to actualize his transformative agenda. This includes a massive network of road infrastructures, the Ease-of-Doing-Business, land reform, and an International Agro Cargo Airport to facilitate export promotion and value addition to agro-allied products, among others.

In furtherance of its effort to meaningfully empower the youths, last week, the Ogun State government in collaboration with International Partners organized a training programme where 100,000 SMSEs, Youths were exposed to emerging technologies to enhance their capacity as global players in the emerging digital economy courtesy of GetFundedAfrica Technologies (GFAT), Microsoft, Google, and Meta.

Delivering a keynote address during the official launch of the training at OgunTechHub, Abeokuta, tagged: “Gateway Skills Programme”, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Cyber Security, Senator Shuaib Salisu, said the empowerment was an opportunity for SMSEs and youths to be self-reliant, get equipped with relevant technology skills enabling them upgrade to digital marketing.

Senator Salisu, who expressed optimism that the programme would revive the economic situation in Nigeria, said the state had the potential to drive the programme to achieve the desired goal.

Also speaking, Special Adviser (SA) to the Governor on ICT, Mr. Dayo Abiodun, said the partnership with Microsoft, Google, and others was a deliberate attempt by the state government to expose small business owners, as well as young graduates to hidden benefits of the digital economy, calling on beneficiaries to get registered, trained, certified and start working immediately, among other opportunities.

The Co-founder, GFAT, Mr. Adebowale Omololu, explained that the programme was designed for SMSEs and young graduates in Ogun, to be the first beneficiaries before other states, giving them the necessary support to develop carriers in ICT, access finance and mentorship to grow their businesses, noting that digital economy was a pathway for thriving entrepreneurship.

‘’We chose Ogun State first among others because of the business-friendly atmosphere created by Prince Dapo Abiodun. So, a portal will be opened for interested SMSEs to register; we will take them through different training sessions, upscale their products and services to a tech community, and help them access grants from international and local partners.

“Also, job seekers will have direct or indirect opportunities, thereby promoting digital marketing that will, in the long run, boost revenue and position Ogun State on a high pedestal,” he said.

This is even as the British Envoy applauded the Ogun State government on industrialisation drive. Giving the commendation on Friday, the Deputy British High Commissioner, Mr. Jonny Baxter, who led a team from the British High Commission, Lagos, to the Office of the Deputy Governor, Engr. (Mrs.) Noimot Salako-Oyedele, expressed the Commission’s willingness to identify with the Ogun State government for improved economic and trade relations.

He noted that the huge industrial presence across the State was a testament to the Governor Dapo Abiodun-led administration’s commitment to ensuring that the state remains the industrial capital of Nigeria. While describing Ogun as pivotal to Nigeria’s industrial base, given the various economic opportunities that abound in the state, the British Envoy said his government would collaborate with the state government, especially on industrialization and agriculture, to strengthen the agricultural value chain for food security.

“Since the current economic realities across the globe call for smooth and strategic measures, partnering with the government through programs that enhance agriculture, towards making it become the mainstay of the economy for the good of the people, especially the vulnerable, is a right step in the right direction,” he said.

Responding, the deputy governor informed the delegation of the government’s commitment to sustaining a conducive environment for existing businesses to thrive. In contrast, new ones were being facilitated into the state, stressing that creating a conducive environment was the pull factor Governor Dapo Abiodun identified at the inception of his administration.

Salako-Oyedele pointed out that the state was endowed with an expanse of arable land mass which was being judiciously utilized for economic gain, adding that 21, 000 hectares of land had been set aside for rice and maize production, towards achieving food security.

She affirmed the continuous engagement of stakeholders and players of industry like the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), on the ease of doing business without degrading the environment, through Public Private Partnership (PPP), adding that the attendant problems associated with industrialization such as migration, infrastructure deficit, and insecurity were being looked into.

Since Governor Abiodun assumed the mantle of leadership in 2019, the focus of his administration has been to create an enabling environment to attract local and foreign direct investments into the State. Apart from the network of road infrastructure across the three senatorial districts, continuous improvement in the Ease-of-Doing-Business, and land reform initiative which provide attraction for investors, the administration has also created four economic zones in the last four and a half years in addition to Agbara Industrial Zone, which includes Ota and Kajola axes.

At present, the Agbara Industrial Zone is arguably the largest industrial zone in Nigeria and probably one of the largest in the continent. It is the zone that makes Ogun State the industrial capital of Nigeria. The decision by the present government to create an additional four zones is not only to expand the economic opportunities that abound in the State but also makes it investor-friendly.

*Ogbonnikan writes from Abeokuta, Ogun State capital.

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