pic above: Bature Umar Masari – DG, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN).
In the 2013 National Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME) Survey report, the agriculture and mining sectors had a poor show with 1, 536 and 245 numbers of small and medium enterprises operating in the two sectors respectively.
In this interview with AGBO-PAUL AUGUSTINE, the director-general, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), Bature Umar Masari, gives reasons for the weak numbers.
In the 2013 National MSME Survey Report, agriculture and mining appear to have a small number of SMEs. What could be the reason?
It is quiet true that the result of the national survey on SME which came out early last year in collaboration with the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), agriculture and mining contributed not quite well in the area of employment generation in the country. This is due to one factor that is associated to the lack of affordable access to finance. Nigeria is massively endowed in the area of agriculture and mining and more other mineral resources but utilising them for the benefit of the country has been problematic. Take agriculture for instance, SMEDAN as an agency has been able to identify it earlier, that it has the capacity to generate employment for Nigerians. And that is why we initiated the One Local Government One Product (OLOP) idea in the agency in order to bring the potential very glaring for people who want to invest in the MSME sector in the country.
We undertook OLOP survey in Nigeria, where we were able to identified key areas where Nigerian entrepreneurs can begin to set up enterprises that will able to add value to all the products that are being produce in mass quantity in each local government areas in Nigeria.
Going forward with a detailed implementation of the OLOP discoveries in every local government in Nigeria, we will begin to see massive job creation in the agricultural sector in the country. By the time we will be reviewing this particular survey next time, definitely, the contributions of agriculture in job creation and economic empowerment in Nigeria is going to be very massive.
Mining is a business that is capital intensive and a bit difficult for Nigerian entrepreneurs to access funds for their individual business activities and that is why also, the contribution of mining in the area is very insignificant compared to other sectors. But like agriculture, we have mapped out our strategies that we will be able to implement in a properly organised manner, artisanal miners all over the country on how to maximise their benefits in the area of mining and how we can be able to do business seamlessly to ensure that access to funds to artisanal miners is made very easy for them so that they will able to contribute in a much bigger way to the country’s drive for job creation and economic empowerment.
In 2016, SMEDAN is well positioned as we have identified all the areas we are going into fully with proper financial backing by the federal government and with active collaborations with individual state governments that are willing to partner with SMEDAN in the implementation of our OLOP initiative under the NADEP initiative and also in the implementation of our programmes that are targeted at artisanal miners all over the country.
It is our desire to ensure that the two sectors contribute immensely to job creation and massive economic empowerment of Nigerians all over the country. In agriculture, the potential are there and in every local government areas of the country, we have identified products with their value addition and potential as well so that we will guide Nigerians on how to set up enterprise that will begin to add value on the products produced in the different local government areas.
In the report also, there were no records for Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states. What could be responsible for the omission?
It is true; it was very difficult for the agency and the NBS to take the huge risk of sending officers’ to the nooks and crannies of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states when the survey was conducted because it was done in the heat of the insurgency. We started early 2014 and concluded late that year and the results came out early 2015. Those were the period when insurgency was at its height and that is why there is no information from those areas.
How do you intend to synergise your efforts with other developmental programmes like the Youth Employment In Agriculture Programme (YEAP) by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and other sister agencies and ministries fighting unemployment in Nigeria?
There is a relationship between other agencies and what SMEDAN is doing and what the Federal Ministry Of Agriculture is also doing in the area of value addition on agricultural products that are available in every parts of the country. We are in touch with the ministry to ensure seamless coordination of all MSMEs activities that are being handled by one MDA or the other. That is why the agency proposed to the federal government, the establishment of the National Council on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (NCMSME) which was accepted and the national council was set up.
There is hardly one MSME activity or the other including the Federal Ministry Of Agriculture that are not members of the national council. The reason is that we can be able to collaborate together in the implementation of programmes and more Nigerians can be able to benefit. Federal Ministry Of Agriculture, Science And Technology, Finance, the CBN, NDE, Labour And Employment and all MDAs that are discharging MSMEs related activities are members of the National Council on MSME under the chairmanship of the vice president of Nigeria so that he can be able to bring all of us to light and ensure that we collaborate very deeply in the implementation of the programmes to eliminate duplications in our activities and save a lot of for the government.
Funding has been a challenge to many MSMEs startups and the CBN (N220Bn) has not been easy for entrepreneurs to access. How can the nation mitigate this challenge for the benefit of small businesses?
I agree with you that lack of affordable funding is one of the major problems affecting MSME development in Nigeria particularly, the young and up coming entrepreneurs. They have a lot of ideas but lack the requisite financial resources to put their ideas into practice and looking at that, the agency has been able to fashion out so many ways which we are bring to the fore and bringing the attention of the government, so that solution can be found to all of the problems.
One of the policies government came up with is the establishment of the N220 billion MSMEs fund which like you rightly pointed out has so many bottlenecks and other hurdles for up coming entrepreneurs. We are looking at it very seriously with a view to bringing down some of the conditions with the active collaboration of the CBN under the platform of the NCMSME.
What should Nigerians be looking out for in 2016 from SMEDAN?
Nigerians should expect a deeper implementation of our laudable programmes. We have the OLOP initiative which we used to identify the various potential in every local government areas of the country. I have also told you of NADEP which is given meaning to the OLOP identification in very part of the country.
We have been able to widen the scope of our reach, before the end of 2013; SMEDAN was only in 13 locations in Nigeria. As I speak with you now, the agency is in every state in the country, we have opened offices and have structures at the geopolitical levels where SMEDAN is visible with a view to ensuring that our services are now taken to the people, interact with them and to know their challenges and also help to provide the needed assistance. Our state governments need to support our activities to create the needed impact. We all need to act very fast, unemployment and poverty is growing in the country, the earlier our individual state governments begin to appreciate it for them to collaborate with the agency, the better for them and the country.