For Nigeria to move forward, it needs entrepreneurs because they employ about 60 per cent of the workforce. This is the submission of Mr Jimoh Ibrahim, Guest Speaker, at a recently think-tank with entrepreneurs, Ajegunle Apapa, Ajeromi Ifelodun Local Government, Lagos State.
He was of the view that Nigerians need to engage more in business now than before: “For every business, to move forward, one must understand that he is number sales person. We should also see ourselves as those who are out to impact in our economy. As business owners, you should try as possible to pay ourselves salaries and separate your business money from your personal money.”
Representative of the Lagos State Ministry of Commerce, Alhaji Adeniji Yusuf, noted that entrepreneurs should know the people they co exist with in business and cooperate with those who are in the line of their businesses, as that would enhance success. He observed that the major challenge of every entrepreneur is funding:
“In business, there should be a forum to exchange ideas and see how one can be of help to others. Major challenges in business is cooperation and insincerity. There is need to be sincere in every cooperative society, as that conquers the devil within. As you cooperate, you make more money, groom yourselves, expand your horizon and market.”
Mr Fatai Ahmed of Access Bank stressed the need for entrepreneurs to understand the new technology, as information is key to development of SMEs. He revealed that banks refuse to grant loans to many entrepreneurs because they do not keep proper record of their sales, and therefore will not understand their business cycles.
Mr Odedeyi Abiodun of the Ibile Micro Finance on available loan for small businesses called on entrepreneurs to cultivate the habits of savings and ensure that their products are original and marketable in order for the get referrals and access bank loans easily: “Banks do not borrow ghosts money. They must understand your savings capacity.”
Also the CEO of Fiam (AJ City Internet) Mr Akin Morinho, advised entrepreneurs to maintain integrity in their relationships with customers.
Chairman of the local government, Mr. Fatai Ayoola, said his government is working to change the narratives of what people say the locality is. He said for businesses to strive in the locality, there is need for adequate security of lives and property of the people. As a result, he said some measures have been put in place to ensure security by donating a patrol vehicle and motor bikes to each of the three police divisions in the area for quick response to distress calls for crime fighting and prevention.
He said the local government donated a patrol vehicle each to the Nigerian Army, Navy and Special Anti Robbery Squad to regular patrol in the area: “Very few people who had their children abroad hardly bring them here for education, but I did so because I am proud of my root. So, we will continue to do our best to make out people happy and comfortable.”
Chief of Staff to the council chairman, Mr Lucky Uduikhue, explained that the programme was to enhance the productivity and viability of all SMEs in Ajeromi Ifelodun and its environs, and to create a platform for networking, mentorship, accessing of loans and grants, developing business opportunities, motivation, training and other strategies that promote sustainable business growth for start-ups and others who are in business.
He said the programme became necessary because a lot of challenges arise in SMEs, as many of them have no structures and are not bankable: “Those who are bankable, do not have what it takes to put their business in order. So, we decided to give them orientation and education to support them arrange their businesses, so that if opportunities come their way in form of loan, they should be able to access them without hitches.”
He said the local government wants to see how it can work with entrepreneurs and banks to create a relationship in order to have access to funds: “We want to give them an enabling environment by giving them the orientation to re package themselves, restructure their business and environment, so that, they would have access to fund lenders to improve and grow their businesses.”