The Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Aisha Abubakar, has said that the Federal Government will assist the Small and Medium Enterprises to have better access to finance.
Abubakar, who stated this on Sunday at the Simply Nigeria Fair in Ikoyi, assured the SME operators that the government would render the necessary support to boost their operations.
Speaking with The PUNCH after she declared the fair open, the minister said, “Every time you see Nigerians doing amazing things, you are so excited, and feel inspired; and we want to do much more for them. A lot of people are just doing their own things in their own corners, but they can do much more if they are given all the support they need.
“The government is doing what it can. SMEs are major key players in the economic and recovery growth plan. We are trying to make it easier for them to have access to finance.
“We are encouraging the regulatory agencies to accommodate their needs and give them licences faster. We are also talking about things like procurement processes so that they can all be involved. We are determined to see them take their place in the nation’s economic growth.
“There are no waivers when it comes to loans because when you give money, you would want your money back. However, there are various windows through which they can access funds through the Development Bank of Nigeria. We also have the Bank of Industry, which has different platforms by which SMEs can have access to loans.”
She therefore advised the small scale business owners to learn how to keep their books properly so that banks would have necessary information to work with.
She said, “When the banks go through the books, they would be more willing to give loans. They also need to undergo training and learn financial management. It is also important to join relevant associations in their respective industries.”
One of the vendors at the fair, who is also the CEO of 029 Limited, Obiora Ononye, explained the importance of the SMEs in nation building.
He said, “We make shoes, bags, caps, luggage, carpets, and other materials with leather. It is a family-run business for now, and we’ve been around for about three decades.”
He said Nigerians did not take things like this seriously before, but now, “we see young graduates coming to learn the craft. Making indigenous products like ours is very important because when most foreigners come into the country, they like to buy things that they will not readily find in their home countries.
“Even without exporting, I believe that SMEs can make a lot of money doing business within the country. Fairs like this are very important because they give people like me the opportunity to showcase our goods to a variety of people,” he said.
Actress, Kate Henshaw, who was also at the fair, enjoined Nigerians to patronise goods made in the country.