Some stakeholders in the industry, trade and investment sector have called for a proper platform for disbursement of funds meant for development of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the country.
They spoke on Wednesday in Abuja at a roundtable organised by the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) on the sideline of the ongoing Abuja International Trade Fair.
The stakeholders, who called for a practical solution, decried the lingering challenges facing the sector, including the bottlenecks in accessing funds and grants from relevant agencies.
Speaking on the theme “Remodeling MSMEs Financing: Options and Solution”, Mrs Tonia Shoyole, ACCI Director General, said remodeling MSMEs was apt due to the challenges posed by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement.
She said that the roundtable was to find lasting solution to MSMEs problems which include conventional request for collateral and finance leasing, to avoid difficulties while implementing the AfCFTA.
Describing Nigeria as a 99 per cent MSMEs-based country, she said that the communiqué drawn from the roundtable would be sent to the Nigeria economic team and other relevant agencies for the way forward in funding MSMEs.
Prof. Olumide Ayodele, Technical Adviser to the Director General, Budget Office of the Federation, underscored the need for a comprehensive study by the chamber to clearly identify their financial challenges.
Ayodele also urged ACCI to track the existing guidelines for disbursement of MSMEs fund and be largely organised to engage relevant agencies towards integration of the Organised Private Sector (OPS).
The ACCI Vice President (Media), Chief Jude Igwe, frowned at the system of disbursement of fund by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), saying that funds domiciled in the bank for MSMEs were not always accessible.
“Though the government has had some policies to help the MSMEs grow, it has been more of talk than practical solutions.
“I would not say that government is not interested, but those implementing the policies are not getting it.
“Because the banks and the agencies responsible to make these funds provided by government have been difficult, ACCI has always emphasised on being used as the agency that can guarantee disbursement and recovery of the funds,’’ he said.
Dr Antonia Ashiedu, Managing Director, Penquin Development Concept Ltd. advised that strong MSMEs clusters and cooperatives should be formed to achieve a desired sustainable impact.
In his contribution, Dr Johnson Anele, ACCI Vice President (Commerce}, said that ACCI was well structured and would continue to welcome technological innovations to boost the sector.
Mr Ibrahim Abdulmalik, Deputy Director, Enterprise Development and Promotion, Small and Medium Enterprises Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), decried unfavourable policies and called for political will to make the sector attractive.
He said that it was based on enhancing the sector that SMEDAN created a programme called One Local Government One Product (OLOP), aimed at targeting and boosting MSMEs clusters at the rural level.
Ms Deborah Ajai, Chief Executive Officer of El-bethel Global Business School, also urged the chamber to work with the youth to establish their businesses.
“Over 20 million youth are not employed after graduating from school because they do not have what it takes to own a business, no access to finance and collateral because of stringent conditions,” she said.
She appealed to ACCI to create a platform for youths and structure them, noting that most of their businesses were not registered due to lack of financial management system.