Expert Urges Governments, Stakeholders to Bolster SMEs for Economic Growth
There is an urgent need for governments at all levels and stakeholders to develop thought-provoking and relevant skills set that are not prerequisites for jobs, in order to power growth and development in this challenging economic time, an expert in the banking industry, Mr. Ken Opara, has advocated.
The General Manager, Managed SMEs, Trade and Multilateral Agencies, Fidelity Bank Plc, stated that the future holds more promise for the nation’s economy if policy formulators in the country can see Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) as key drivers of economic growth and job creation, which form a large part of the innovation landscape in developing economies.
Mr. Opara, who was Guest Speaker at the recent Town and Gown seminar of the Department of Economics and Development Studies, Covenant University, where he delivered a lecture titled, ‘SMEs Outlook in Nigeria: The Imperative for Research, Innovation and Partnership’, said that despite the recent challenges bedeviling the nation’s economy, Nigeria remains one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
He posited that the nation’s teeming entrepreneurial-driven youths must subscribe fully to key imperatives in the quest for a SMEs-driven economy. This, he said, would entail enabling the human resources to be knowledgeable or skilled in social media environment, embrace digital technology in expanding their market base, think business diversification and new markets towards exporting finished products.
Mr. Opara noted that some of the major challenges facing SMEs operations in Nigeria could be classified under financial and low-level of business management capacity. These, he explained, include limited financial options, high cost of operations, inappropriate funding structure, collateral documentations and issues with partnerships among others.
He suggested the need for better understanding of globalization, new youths entrepreneurship initiatives and small business management scheme and at the same time, latch on the opportunities provided by development programmes initiated by financial institutions like the Federal Government’s Youth Enterprise Support Programme (YES-Programme) of the Bank of Industry (BOI) and the Youth Innovative Entrepreneurship Development Programme (YIEDP) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Declaring the seminar open, the Head, Department of Economics and Development Studies, Dr. Evans Osabuohein, said that it is the bridging of the knowledge gap between industries and the academia that leads to improved research outputs.
While highlighting the importance of SMEs to economic growth as regards its impact on job creation and national GDP, Dr. Osabuohein decried a situation whereby the nation has not been able to harness the inherent benefits of viable SMEs operation to create economic values that can be exchanged.