By Adedapo Adesanya
Businesses may have suffered their worst year in 2020, but this year will see Micro, Small, and Medium Scales Enterprises (MSMEs) thrive if they work on all the lessons learnt and use them to adapt to the changing landscape, Mr Seye Olurotimi, the founder of MSMEs Africa, has said.
Mr Olurotimi, while appearing as a guest on TV Continental’s programme called Business Nigeria anchored by Mr Tolu Ogunjobi, which was monitored by Business Post, noted that small businesses do not have shock absorbers, which he said affected them when the global economy was faced with an unprecedented health crisis last year.
In his words, “MSMEs don’t have shock absorbers to withstand what the big corporates could absolve and when COVID-19 came and forced people to stay back at home, a lot of them didn’t have the infrastructure to run their services.
“It affected the way they made money. So, people could not make money, couldn’t meet their obligations, some have debts. Many have had to lay off their staff because they could not afford them.”
Mr Olurotimi noted that the recession that came with the situation led many to grapple with a lot as it made it harder for them to meet up with a lot of obligations.
FG’s interventions good
However, he commended several interventions from the federal government, which he said some have benefitted from. But he noted that the programme could not meet the demands of the over 40 million SMEs in the country.
Mr Olurotimi praised the payroll scheme of the federal government, which helped to pay workers and not business founders for a specified period, adding that the Guaranteed Offtake Scheme helped to provide funds to produce goods and also provided avenue’s to help them sell these goods.
While lauding these schemes, he advised the FG not to “just give people money” but should “train them on how to use them,” submitting that “for every intervention, let’s create a part that trains people on how to manage businesses so as to build capacity.”
He further said that despite the considerable improvement made as regards the movement of Nigeria in the ranks of global ease of doing business, there was more the country could do. Nigeria moved 15 places to 131 from 146 out of the 190 countries assessed by the World Bank.
He charged the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) to do more, explaining that the rate that businesses spend on electricity, rent and transport are not sustainable for business.
Recommending effective measures that the Nigerian government can drive businesses, Mr Olurotimi suggested the creation of hubs for SMEs.
“When we say hubs, we mean like clusters for MSMEs where there is a 24-hour power supply and improved infrastructure so they don’t have to look outside,” he explained.
He added that the government should look to create hubs in different locations in the federation where people can have access to power and other needed structures.
“I think that would work, having hubs where all the factors of production or most are readily available and affordable.
“I also think the regulatory environment has to be friendlier. We have regulators like NAFDAC, SON, FIRS who have become unfriendly… so when the regulatory environment is suitable and friendly, SMEs will thrive.
He also added that the federal government needs to have policies that support capacity development, saying that factoring entrepreneurship into the country’s educational curriculum was not enough without the necessary outlets to practise.
Mr Olurotimi noted that policies like the Loan-Deposit Ratio (LDR) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Finance Act (2020) and Companies Allied Matters Act (2020) deserved a pat on the back but people need to see more.
Outlook for MSMEs in 2021
Projecting what the year could hold, Mr Olurotimi said businesses would thrive following the copious challenges faced in the last twelve months on the condition they could leverage on technology and cut costs.
He advised the government to come to the aid of business not by interventions alone but by creating an enabling environment not restricted by unfriendly policies.
On the part of MSMEs, Mr Olurotimi said the pandemic saw people leverage technology and cut costs, and if they could build on these, they would be able to survive whatever shocks await.
He also charged SMEs to open up to the idea of open-source funding from venture capitalists, angel investors, among others, noting that the business trend of sole proprietorships is outdated and equity funding is where the world is driving towards, adding that business owners needed to improve on their creditworthiness by improving on their business characters.
FG Pledges Single-Digit Loans for Small Businesses
By Adedapo Adesanya
The federal government has pledged to support Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) with single-digit loans so as to boost their businesses.
This was disclosed by the Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mrs Maryam Katagum, on Friday when members of the Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME) visited her in Abuja.
According to her, there is a lot of commendation at the recent retreat President Muhammadu Buhari had with the ministers for the MSMEs.
“In his closing speech, Mr President specifically said that every support will be given to ensure that MSMEs have access to credits.
“That is what we always preach and we will give every support to the MSMEs as the engine of economic growth to have access to credits at single digits,” Mrs Katagum said.
The Minister, who pointed out the critical role MSMEs play in growing the economy, said this role was further heightened during the COVID-19 lockdown.
“Even the woman selling groundnut or `akara’ couldn’t come out to practice her passion. Everybody felt the effect of the lockdown.
“We have to appreciate President Muhammadu Buhari for interventions that were provided for MSMEs during the lockdown.
“And once it was identified to put in some mechanism to stop the economy from going under, our ministry is one of the ministries asked to make submissions to see how to keep the economy going and ensure free flow of goods and services across the country.
“Our proposal was very easily accepted and the sum of N75 billion was allocated and we made a lot of progress.
“Average Nigerians appreciated the efforts and we have seen them giving their testimonies and right now we are on the last track which is the guaranteed off-take scheme,” the Minister said.
She appealed to the association to identify innovative ways that the Federal Government can assist MSMEs.
“As partners, your association has to start thinking of new innovative ways that we can assist MSMEs, it’s not just the finance.
“So, when you give them the money, they don’t know what to do with the money so you need to intensify the capacity building and sharing of information to know what is happening and where,” she said.
On his part, the President and Chairman of the governing council of NASME, Mr Abdulrashid Yerima, expressed the association’s commitment to deepening the relationship with the ministry.
Mr Yerima appreciated the ministry for including NASME in various committees set up by the government to support the development of MSMEs in Nigeria.
He, however, sought the appointment of members of the association to the boards of parastatals under the ministry and solicited the ministry’s support for inputs into human capital development for the association.
“Our association serving in the board of revenant agencies under the ministry will help us to make informed inputs into the policies of the agencies that impact MSME growth and development in Nigeria.
“Also support for capital development for our association is crucial for the development of skills and manpower to upscale MSMEs especially NASME,” Mr Yerima said.
IGR: Osinbajo Expresses Worry Over Governors’ ‘Laziness’
By Adedapo Adesanya
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo seems to be worried about the inability of state governors to be innovative in boosting their respective Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).
The number 2 man, speaking at the maiden edition of Ekiti State’s investment forum in Ado-Ekiti, has, therefore, tasked them to think out of the box and act like a sovereign state so as to make them challenge countries of the world.
“Thinking differently, there is a need for a sub-national to think like a sovereign state. You have a bigger GDP (gross domestic product) and even more revenues than many nations.
“There is a different mindset when you are sure of a monthly allocation of cash at least enough to pay salaries, whether you generate income or not. This is the challenge. The so-called Dutch disease, one becomes complacent,” he said.
“But what if you had to take responsibility for all those who reside within your borders, pay all salaries, from internally generated revenue?” he queried.
Drawing a parallel, he said that Lagos State improved its IGR from N600 million monthly in 1999/2000 to about N45 billion today, adding that the illegal seizure of the allocations to the state by the then federal government was the shock that forced the state to rethink.
Speaking further, Mr Osinbajo noted that although a state within a federation is not a nation, it must behave like one, to further boost its economic development.
“The economy of the sub-national is a peculiar animal. The state within the federation is not a nation, but it must behave like one, it derives some resources from the federal pool, and generates some income, the overall sum will provide infrastructure and services to the community.
“The size of the sum and the quantum of opportunity available to provide livelihoods for the populace will depend on how the state enables local and external investors, small and large to put their resources into business and commercial activity business in the State.
“The funded portion of the state’s budget is after all a mere fraction of the sum total of economic activity or income-generating activity, formal or informal within the state. So, the attractiveness of a state to commerce is a radical issue,” Mr Osinbajo said.
He asserted that “the very lives and livelihoods of the people within the borders of the State, whether the people will live prosperous and happy lives, be educated, have access to affordable medical care, depends on it.”
He then encouraged them to key into the benefit from a private-sector led economy, noting that the model is the right way to go, as the business is the standpoint of the private sector, while governments should as much as possible facilitate, or at best, collaborate.
NGX Group Finally Lists 1.964 billion Shares, Trades at N17.75
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
A total of 1,964,115,918 shares, representing the issued share capital of the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Group Plc, were successfully listed on the trading platform of NGX Limited on Friday, October 15, 2021.
Business Post reports that the stocks were listed on the exchange today by introduction at a unit price of N17.75, higher than the N14.68 per unit it last traded on the NASD Securities Exchange on Friday, October 8, 2021, it the shares used to be traded.
This newspaper gathered that at the exchange today, investors traded about 3.6 million units of the company’s equities worth N63.2 million in 31 deals and closed flat at N17.75.
It was listed on the main board of the NGX having satisfied the listing requirements of the exchange and obtained relevant regulatory approvals.
The company is on the bourse in the financial services and capital market infrastructure sector, with the ticker NGXGROUP.
The top members of staff of the company were honoured today with the closing gong ceremony and the Chairman, Mr Abimbola Ogunbanjo, in his speech, stated that, “Today’s listing of NGX Group on NGX is another milestone attained pursuant to the group’s 2018 – 2021 corporate strategy.
“Our shareholder base has more than doubled since our demutualisation in March 2021 and our valued shareholders will benefit from the enhanced liquidity that listing on the exchange will facilitate.
“This listing will also enable a much wider universe of potential investors and market participants to share in our growth journey.
“As a board, we embrace the letter and spirit of the listing requirements and we are committed to transparent disclosure, proactive stakeholder engagement and exemplary corporate governance.”
Also speaking, the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of NGX Group, Mr Oscar Onyema, disclosed that, “Today’s listing of NGX Group on the nation’s premier exchange will enable institutional investors globally as well as the Nigerian public to invest in Nigerian Exchange Group Plc.
“With strengthening market dynamics, serving the largest economy in Africa, NGX Group’s listing allows us to expand in key capital market infrastructure verticals and look beyond Nigeria’s borders, as we deliver on our growth plans to become Africa’s leading capital market infrastructure group.”
As for the CEO of NGX, Mr Temi Popoola, he described the listing as a milestone, expressing his excitement about the development.
“We congratulate the board and management first on a successful demutualisation and on its subsequent listing. This move is particularly exciting, as it will position NGX Group to provide liquidity to members while stimulating the capital market ecosystem to grow at the same pace as the economy.
“Today, we reiterate our commitment to being a trusted partner to NGX Group and other listed companies as we continue to build a platform that allows our listed companies, investors and other stakeholders to maximise value in our market,” he said.
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