German Envoy Advocates Support for SMEs, Start-Ups

Funke Olaode

Nigeria has been urged to offer increased support to Small Scale Enterprises (SMEs) including starts-ups in the country, describing the as the backbone of any economy.

The Consul-General of the Federal Republic of Germany, Mr. Weert Borner, made this call recently during an event tagged, “The Nigeria-German Start-Up Exchange Dinner Reception,” hosted at the German Consulate Office in Lagos.

According to Boner, the impact of start-up and small enterprises in engaging human capital on a large scale by creating jobs has led to the growth of various economies across the globe.

While throwing light on why the SMEs should be prioritised, he noted, “If you study both Nigerian and German economies, there is a kind of parallel in terms of using SMEs and starts-up to lift the economy.

“If you go into statistics, most companies that are creating most of the jobs or are offering most of the vocational trainings are not the big ones, they are the many small ones. And the startups are definitely part of it, there are many young, innovative people creating those business models for the present and the future.”

The German-Nigerian Startup Exchange Programme, the first of its kind, was conceptualised early this year between March and April when 10 entrepreneurs and founders from Nigeria went to Germany for 8 weeks. In return, 10 entrepreneurs from Germany also visited Nigeria.

According to Borner, the collaboration between the two countries is a win-win situation as the exchange programme provided insights for participants on how companies operate while broadening their horizon about possibilities, adding that listening to the testimonies of the participants indicated it was a successful collaboration.

In an exclusive interview with THISDAY, one of the participants and Managing Director, Phiozah Limited, Princess Echefu, an engineering service provider, was thankful to the organisers of the programme. “It was an eye-opener for us. You know when you are in a small pond, you think you are doing so well. Now, going there, and seeing other startups and what they do, we learnt a lot. We were able to have meetings with other start-ups in some of their start-up hubs.”

Corroborating Echefu, Chief Executive Officer, Africa Medical Market Place, Augusta Okafor, who runs an e-commerce B2B platform that connects global medical manufacturers, suppliers and distributors across 54 countries, with the whole essence being to reduce avoidable deaths, said it has been quite an innovative experience. “The experience for starts-ups has strengthened our knowledge on how to do things better. And most importantly, there were situations of building bridges which are very impactful for what we do.”

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