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Growing SMEs


Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) have a key role to play in boosting productivity but they need support. Stakeholders have suggested on how to grow the sector, DANIEL ESSIET reports.

THE entrepreneurial ecosystem needs to be nurtured to encourage greater growth among small and medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs), stakeholders have said.

They spoke at a webinar organised by an Abuja-based Connect Lab, which focuses on developing the next generation of youth-led ventures and impact-driven social enterprises.

The recommendations were gleaned from its  ongoing  Policy Dialogue Ecosystem  Project;  the  Start-up Investment  Breakfast  and  the  Start-up  Taxation  Breakfast Sessions.

Speakers included Senior Manager, Tax, Regulatory and People Services, KPMG, Elizabeth Olaghere; Senior Manager, PwC, Emeka Chime; Principal Partner, Lefort Consulting, Oluwatoyin Olufon; Coordinating Director, Tax Operations Group, Federal Inland Revenue Service, Femi Oluwaniyi and  the Director, IBFD Knowledge Centre, Belema Obuoforibo.

Others were Chief Executive Elpee, Consult, Dr Lanre Phillips; Executive Editor/co-founder, Techpoint Africa, Muyiwa Matuluko; Chief Executive, Ventures Park, Nkechi Oguchi; National Coordinator, Office for ICT, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Dr Amina Sambo-Magaji and co-founder, Trans Sahara Investment Corporation, Bukar Kyari.

In a communique at the end of the event, the conference maintained that Nigeria needed a long-term education strategy to build the next generation of entrepreneurs, incorporating training across the education system, including business placements, management apprenticeships, and skills training for SME support.

The forum noted that Nigerians have great potential, entrepreneurial spirit, innovative capability and that startups could make a bigger contribution to sustainable development. Against this background, the forum urged the government to focus on improving investment conditions.

It implored the government to support business innovation targeting SMEs with the most innovative ideas and biggest growth potential.

It highlighted the need for high-quality projects and firms to have an improved access to funding sources.

The forum noted that the economy requires a paradigm shift that gives small businesses competitive advantage in terms of production costs to respond to domestic and regional needs and demands.

It said the economy should be provided incentives to help startups and small businesses explore investments in new areas of opportunity.

According to the forum, taxation could play a key role if it encourages small businesses to engage in activities that help lift the economy and Nigerians from poverty.

The forum said growth could be stimulated if there were efforts to accelerate the growth of innovative, scalable, ambitious and impactful early stage enterprises which can create jobs and promote private sector development and entrepreneurship.

The Programme Manager, Connect Lab, Mercy Olorunfemi said the hub‘s objective is to support startups and SMEs to scale by providing access to training and development programmes and facilitating collaboration across a spectrum of national and international government and state agencies, academic institutions and business leaders.

The Hub, according to her,  offers high quality, modern, fully serviced and affordable accommodation to startups and SMEs such as offices, co-working space’s, hot desks and meeting rooms to help them to start, scale and go global.

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