1 November 2008

Nigeria: Major Problems Facing Small Scale Enterprises

One major problem in Nigeria's business environment is inadequate power supply. This and other factors are responsible for the problems and low performance of small scale enterprises and these problems seem to have to defied all efforts by government to address them.

The problems over the years have equally kept foreign investors on the run despite Nigeria's efforts to lure them to invest in the country.In this edition, Saturday Vanguard went to town to know how operators of small scale enterprises are surviving the hardship and how they want government to assist them to cushion the effects.

Government should do something about power supply

Emmanuel Kayode Balogun is a photographer who operates a Photo Studio at Itire, a part of Lagos suburb.

He says: One of the problems facing photographing business now is road-side photographers who go around conducting the business at reduced prices on the streets of Lagos without renting shops, a situation which has reduced business for some of us who rented photo studios and are paying rent and monthly levy to Local Government.

Recently, Lagos State Professional Photographers, an umbrella body governing photographers in Lagos State are making efforts to set a task force that will curb this road side photographers and return them to the normal way we used to do it since government is not doing anything after receiving the complaints from the union.

That apart, another factor that try to put us out of business is lack of power supply. This one is beyond our control. I spend a lot of money buying petrol so that I can use generator to work for hours.

Even with that, generator can't carry digital camera machine. It can always spoil it because of its capacity.

This is a problem because these days, customers prefer passports with digital camera because it's quicker and sharper and with generator, you can't be able to do that. So we keep losing customers and losing money. Yet at the end of the month, one still pays NEPA bill.

We are pleading with government to save our business by finding a lasting solution to power supply in Nigeria.

It's difficult to make it in business under this environment

Uchenna Oguguofor who operates a supermarket at Ijaye, Mushin Local government, Lagos, narrates his experience in running a supermarket shop.

"The rate at which power supply is being rationed these days cannot help any businessman. Customers will come to buy soft drinks expecting it will be chilled to satisfy their taste but reverse becomes the case.

And by so doing, you will discover that the rate of turnover becomes so low that one keeps losing customers at the end of the day. Power supply is nothing to write home about. Business operation here is being starved to the extreme. Under this situation of epileptic power supply, how can we take care of family responsibilities? The prepaid metre talked about has not been circulated.

My fear now is the rate at which the prices of goods are escalating in the market. And you'd discover that government doesn't control price in this part of the world. What you buy N100 naira today, you get to market next time you will buy it N150 or N200. So, where are we going in business with this situation where inflation is rising everyday? Therefore, how you buy is how you sell.

At a time like this, government should put more effort to salvage business operations in this country. Power supply has not improved even after the so called privatisation. This is killing business. One should realise that we have families to take care. We pay school fees and house rents too.

The rate at which local governments have separated these levies is alarming. You pay for any attachment to your shop, pay for locking up shops, there is Permit levy, Terfern levy, Provision Levy and these are easy ways of exploiting business operators unlike before when we pay only for trade levy which covered all.

Government should remedy the situation. Since they cannot employ everybody, they should help us remain in business. Really, small scale enterprises are difficult to operate in Nigeria.

Our business environment is not conducive for an entrepreneur

Mrs. Caroline Agbede, a professional fashion designer operating in Surulere, Lagos, said the cost things in the market is unbearable because of constant power outages which has not only affected the poor but also people like us who are self-employed.

We cannot operate without generators. Cost of delivering designer's wears is high. In most cases, I use locally produced iron to iron dresses before and after design. Even at that, some customers would not want to listen to you whether you are using generator set or not. They still insist on old price which is affecting business badly.

The worse aspect of it all is that at the end of the month, NEPA will send their normal electricity bill for payment. So tell me, how do we cope with this unconducive environment militating against small scale enterprises? If you go to the villages, some people over there are complaining of power supply and we in townships are suffering power outages also.

Government should help us control the cost of items in the market and give us power supply so that our business will not die.

I am not a salary earner and I have my own responsibilities to carry. You can see that there is unemployment in town and self-employed people don't have light to do their businesses. Government should please do something about power supply. A lot of businesses cannot function again because of cost of maintenance.

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