Chief Egwu Chima, South-East board member in the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) says the agency is committed to promoting growth of Small and Medium Enterprises in the zone.
Chima, who is a former commissioner for Information in Ebonyi, stated this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abakaliki on Friday.
According to him, most of the world’s advanced economies achieved their statuses due to the contributions made by the small and medium enterprises.
He explained that SMEs are pivotal in keeping the economy afloat, noting that SMEDAN and other relevant stakeholders in the economy were working hard to encourage and promote growth and development of SMEs in Nigeria.
Reiterating government’s commitment to boosting the economy, Chima called on the five South-East governors and wealthy industrialists from the zone to partner the agency for the development of SMEs in the zone. SMEDAN had lined up programmes aimed at equipping owners of SMEs with requisite skills to adapt to competitive business environment.
Chima also revealed that the agency was involved in organising training workshops for small business owners to enhance their business proficiency.
“SMEDAN has programmes aimed at reducing poverty and unemployment, including the youth empowerment scheme, Conditional Grants Scheme (CGS) for businesses and business training programmes, among others.
“The training programmes are designed to equip the small and medium business owners with additional skills to become more proficient in what they are doing.
Recently, SMEDAN launched an economic programme for South-East zone called One-Local government, One-Product (OLOP) in Enugu.
“Under this initiative, every local government in the zone is expected to have a cooperative society that specialises in a particular product either in palm produce production, rice, cassava or even in weaving production.
“Any trade is a product, any enterprise is a product and each of Local Government in the South-East is expected to identify with one product in this programme initiative. SMEDAN was at Enugu to sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with micro finance banks approved by the Central Bank of Nigeria and we expect that the economic initiative will empower rural business owners,” he said.
He noted that the agency has mapped out series of programmes still ongoing in Ebonyi, aimed at promoting SMEs in the state. Chima urged both state and the Federal Governments to make the Nigeria’s business climate more conducive for small and medium businesses to thrive and become more productive.
“SMEs are engines that propel the country’s economy to enhance economic growth; many of them can employ as many Nigerians as possible and from there lift them out of joblessness and poverty,” he said.
The SMEDAN board member, however, called on the Federal Government to allocate more funds to the agency to enable it carryout its statutory mandate, efficiently.