Players in the Small and Medium scale Enterprises (SMEs), have urged President Muhammadu Buhari to address the challenges facing the sector as Nigeria awaits the constitution of a new cabinet.
The stakeholders, who gathered at MISEDI Women Entrepreneurship Summit, yesterday, in Abuja, insisted that the President would only get the economy on track this second term if these challenges were tackled, especially for women. The experts also bemoaned the challenges facing women, who are involved in cross border trade, noting that there was an urgent need to address these barriers. Executive Director, MISEDI, Efosa Onyezebe, said there was a need for Nigeria to drive economic growth from the SMEs perspective, and to build partnerships that will foster economic growth in the country. Onyezebe urged the President to promote initiatives that will create access to markets across the world for Nigerian entrepreneurs as well as funding that will enable small businesses to thrive.
According to her, while the challenges facing players in the sector are compounding, basic infrastructure, including power, road, and communication networks are still limiting the potential of entrepreneurs in the country. Onyezebe, who said her organisation is working on bridging capacity gap and creating market access for women, said: “The development of this country should be given to the major drivers, who are the MSMEs. This will bring change and development into our economy. We need government to do more.” Director, Policy and Strategy, Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC) Abdullahi Sidi-Aliyu, said there was a need to continue to promote women’s involvement in export business. Stating that the International Trade Centre (ITC), has mandated the Council to ensure registration of more women into export business, Sid-Aliyu said women contributes as much 65 per cent of export trade in. Nigeria, especially in the informal sector. He said the Council is targeting additional 200,000 women to the export business, as part of measures to fulfil the ITC mandate.
Sidi-aliyu, who noted that the Council is currently finalising a discussion with the Bank of industry (BoI), and Nexim Bank to support women entrepreneurs, said: “We need to bring them to the limelight so that they can embrace export in the international space.” Also speaking, the Executive Director, Nigeria Private Sector Alliance, Nwiabu Legborsi Nuka, who is also a trade lawyer, argued that cross-border challenges are limiting the potential of women entrepreneurs in Nigeria. Nuka noted that while entrepreneurs, especially women, meet local demand and intend to upscale their businesses through export, tariff, extortion and corruption by law enforcement agencies at the borders, multiple check points, assault, and harassment logistics and cost of export are the bane of cross-border trade.