INTERACTIVE SESSION BETWEEN MR. OLAWALE FASANYA (DIRECTOR-GENERAL), SMALL AND MEDIUM ENTERPRISES DEVELOPMENT AGENCY OF NIGERIA (SMEDAN) AND THE GUILD OF CORPORATE ONLINE PUBLISHERS (GOCOP) AND BUSINESS EDITORS ON JULY 18TH, 2022 AT THE LAGOS AIRPORT HOTEL, IKEJA, LAGOS.
The last report of the SMEDAN/NBS National Survey of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) put the total number of enterprises in the sub-sector at well over 39 million providing a total of over 61 million employments and about 49% of total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Nigeria. As important as the sub-sector is to the national economy, it is still encumbered with several challenges which the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing Ukraine-Russia have further worsened.
Essentially, the challenges of MSMEs usually border on access to finance, market, equipment, information, technical and entrepreneurial skills and workspace. These were some of the fundamental challenges that informed the establishment of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) vide the SMIDA Act in 2003.
Having existed for close to two decade, the Agency has had four past Director-Generals to pilot the structured, sustainable and efficient development of the MSMEs in Nigeria. It will interest ladies and gentlemen of the Press to note that my appointment as the Director-General by Mr. President on June 6th, 2022 is the first time that a staff of the Agency will be at the helms of affairs to drive the sustainable and inclusive development of the sub-sector.
The import of this is that expectations from Stakeholders are expectedly and justifiably high to help address the problems of MSMEs in Nigeria. Having worked very closely with all the past Director-Generals, I owe it a duty to significantly build on the foundations laid by my predecessors so as to cause a positive shift in the MSMEs development narratives in Nigeria. It is in view of this that I have the rare privilege of engaging with you to enable me share my vision for this very important but highly endangered sector of Nigeria’s economy and also get feedbacks from you.
It may interest you to learn that I have already started engaging with the Staff of the Agency and other MSME-enabling Stakeholders. It is oing to be continuous both locally and internationally. I will be paying courtesy visits to key Agencies of Government and non-government stakeholders. I will be meeting some key Stakeholders here in Lagos tomorrow to enable me harvest inputs directly from real MSME players. I am however aware that they were consulted during the process of reviewing the National Policy but the MSME space is very dynamic requiring regular engagements and feedbacks.
Like you are aware, there are programs and projects in the Agency that were carefully designed to address some of the challenges of MSMEs but it has become necessary to start reviewing such based on the feedbacks that this ongoing engagements from the MSMEs will give us.
Part of what we hope to achieve during my tenure is to ensure that I have capable, competent, skilled and healthy workforce. In this regard, I have instructed the appropriate Department to put in place specific trainings to bridge identified gaps among staff. I have also directed that every staff of the Agency must be afforded an opportunity to check their health status at least twice a year. This will help in early detection of ailments that could become life threatening and with negative impacts on staff productivity.
D-8 Centre for SMEs is a proposal we have submitted to the D8 Secretariat. D8 also referred to as Developing-8 is an international organisation specifically established for the development cooperation among the following countries: Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey. This is intended to help promote, encourage, advance and support the activities of MSMEs at the national level as well as within the D-8 region to further strengthen economic, trade and commercial integration and linkages. Therefore, the establishment of the D-8 Centre for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) will unleash substantial development impacts. Synergies between and among the Centre and relevant national agencies/authorities, D-8 Secretariat and other bodies will provide tremendous opportunities for MSMEs to connect and jointly explore opportunities on transforming scientific innovations at the national level into development solutions for the D-8 family. In line with the foregoing, we are currently working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of
Industry, Trade and Investment, Nigeria Export Promotion Council and other stakeholders to host a D8 SME forum in Nigeria towards the end of August 2022.
Submission of request to the Commonwealth Secretariat to access the Commonwealth’s technical assistance on Women and Youth Support Programs with specific focus on:
The training of women entrepreneurs on e-commerce known as “Digital Boot Camp” for women to know how to design their website and carry out trade across borders;
Participation in the activities of the Intra-Commonwealth MSME Association with the mandate to create a platform for MSMEs across the Commonwealth to meet, interact and trade through some partnerships;
Technical support for research activities by the Agency.
Phased movement to a more strategically located Headquarters within the IDC, Idu. The present location of the Agency’s headquarters has become very inadequate and not easily accessible because of the massive vehicular traffic. The relocation, which is to begin towards the end of the year will create space for the Agency’s proposed Micro Finance Bank, MSME Innovation Hub, Training Resource Centre, SMEDAN FCT office, etc.
Establishment of the SMEDAN Micro Finance Bank is aimed at addressing the peculiar challenges of MSMEs with regards to access to funds. The Agency had in the time past advocated for special Funding window for MSMEs but this has not been achieved even with the creation of some development banks. Consequently, we are partnering with some BMOs as investors for the seamless take-off of the Bank.
The Agency is present in all the 36 States of the Federation with Zonal Offices in different parts. Part of my focus is to ensure that both the Zonal and State Offices are adequately staffed in enabling environments. Our Abuja Office will occupy part of the present location of the Agency’s headquarters by the time we conclude relocation to the new Head Office in Idu. In view of funding constraints, we shall be working more closely with State Governments and development partners to achieve this.
Implementation of the National Business Skills Development Initiative (NBDSI) designed to enhance the operational capacities of MSMEs in Nigeria through intensive training and distribution of starter packs. The Agency intend to empower a minimum of 90 participants in each State of the Federation. So, we should be able to produce a minimum of 3,330 new and existing entrepreneurs before the close of 2022.
One-Local Government One Product (OLOP) seeks to develop enterprises in rural communities in line with the available resources for wealth creation through tailored enterprise management development skills and access to incremental technology. The target for this year is to assist 214 Cooperatives in 214 LGAs across 29 States of the Federation.
Conditional Grant Scheme essentially seeks to formalise some of the Nano/Micro enterprises that have growth potentials. The package includes tailored capacity building, provision of grants and establishing relationships with the formal banking sector and other critical compliance institutions. The 2022 target is 10,000 beneficiaries that will be spread across 9 States of the Federation.
The implementation of the recommendations of the revised National Policy on MSMEs has commenced with the Honourable Minister of State, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment inauguration of the Focal Persons Group. This will be followed up with a capacity building jointly organised between SMEDAN and the GIZ. The Policy Implementation Coordination Mechanism drives the entire process for delivering the objectives of the National Policy. The inauguration of the National Technical Implementation Committee, Monitoring and Evaluation Committee and the National Council on MSMEs are scheduled for the later part of the year. Till date, 21 States have inaugurated their State Councils to work closely with the National Secretariat on the implementation of the National Policy on MSMEs recommendations. Let me use this opportunity to appeal to States that have not inaugurated or with moribund State Councils to establish or reactivate them.
The 1st ever Agency-wide Strategic Plan was initiated in 2021 to position the Agency to perform its primary role of defining the direction for MSMEs growth and development. It is also to help coordinate MSME programs across all relevant MDAs. The Plan which is woven around the revised National Policy on MSMEs and with clear Key Performance Indicators (KPI) is ready for implementation and we intend to implement it to the latter.
As a step towards improving the productivity of the Agency’s staff, we have initiated the process with the appropriate approving authorities for an improved condition of service
One of the major challenges that have stalled most start-ups and hindered the growth of existing enterprises is the poor access to functional workspace. Our target is to re-purpose the 23 Industrial Development Centres (IDCs) into affordable workspaces for MSMEs located within the precinct of the IDCs.
The SMEDAN Tertiary Institution Entrepreneurship Development Programme (TINEDEP) is a component of the Mind Shift Entrepreneurship Programme implemented in partnership with the Enterprise Development Centre (Pan-Atlantic University, Lekki, Lagos. Our target for 2022 is to ensure that 25 tertiary institutions (Universities and Polytechnics) are randomly and competitively selected to participate in the TINEDEP program.
The objectives include but not limited to the followings:
Assist students in exhibiting creativity and innovations;
Help students to identify their potentials early enough and help them develop it;
Stimulate students to value enduring wealth creating possibilities and become wealth creating warriors;
Channel the energy of youths to positive and productive ends, etc.
There is no doubt that SMEDAN has done so much with regards to the provision of supports to MSMEs across the country. The National Survey on MSMEs however reported that awareness about the Agency is still relatively low. Regular engagements with the Media, CSOs and other stakeholders will help in publicising some of the achievements of the Agency.
State Level Annual Impact Assessment is an initiative of the Agency that seeks to measure the post-intervention effects on beneficiaries. The report considers the changes in employment, access to new markets, use of improved processing methods, access to funds and several other variables that indicate growth in enterprises.
Participation of MSMEs in local and international fairs allows participating MSMEs to have access to both local and international markets and new technologies. The Agency has facilitated the participation of several MSMEs in different Fairs either within or outside the shores of this country.
The MSMEs Competitiveness Research is to understand the challenges that have over time limited Nigerian MSMEs from taking advantages of the global markets and other initiatives such as the AGOA and AfCTA initiatives. This is expected to address such challenges in a more coordinated and sustainable manner with the hope of increasing their contributions to the national GDP.
The Agency is also working on the possibility of creating a pool of Business Development Service volunteers that will regularly visit MSMEs to provide critical support and advisory services. To complement this, the Agency is to deploy the technically trained staff of the Agency to deliver intensive Business Development Services to MSMEs.
As part of the efforts of the Agency to attend to the challenges of workspace that most MSMEs usually encounter, the Agency is re-purposing the 23 IDCs to provide functional workspace and business incubation to MSMEs either on a temporary or permanent basis.
In the Agency’s attempt to ensure inclusiveness in our programs we have initiated a special capacity building program for people with Special abilities. This is with a view of providing them with an opportunity for economic self-reliance and reduction of the stigma.
The Agric Development Enterprise program seeks to train farmers on necessary technical skills required to develop the value chain of specific agricultural products through the National Agro-Entrepreneurship Training Scheme. It also seeks to, through the Product and Marketing Enhancement Scheme develop products to meet minimum export requirements.
The Matching Fund is an initiative that seeks to bridge the funding gaps experienced by MSMEs through partnership with interested financial institutions. MSMEs are able to access funds with a single digit interest rate. Efforts are also being made to leverage on international grants and funding for MSMEs.
The Garment Cluster initiative of the Agency is targeted at providing support to those in the garment industry through the delivery of tailored capacity building to garment makers with a view to go into mass production for both the local, national, regional and international markets.
Towards bridging the huge information gaps that exist within the MSME community, SMEDAN has built the capacities of Head Office, Zonal and State officers to offer Business Clinic in all the States. This is intended to provide diagnostic solution to business challenges in a structured manner.
As part of the new approach, deliberate efforts will be made to ensure regular inter-Agency cooperation and networking with Stakeholders to leverage on available opportunities and close the gaps that exist among key players within the MSME space.
There is no doubt that the media will help in achieving the mandate of the Agency hence today’s interactive session which is intended to be on a regular basis.
I want to thank you all for your past supports and I sincerely will crave for more support from you all to enable the Agency succeed in achieving her mandate.