The Minister of Trade and Investment, Dr Olusegun Aganga has said Nigeria needs to create more jobs especially through micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) if any meaningful growth was to be recorded over the next decade.
Aganga, who delivered the keynote address at the opening of a two-day SME live banking panel organised by the Bank of Industry (BOI) and Western Union in conjunction with United States Agency for International Development (USAID), said the role of SMEs in job creation could not be overemphasised.
He charged MSMEs in the country to rise to the challenge of job creation, saying: "As entrepreneurs, you must possess strong determination and resilience regardless of the responses you may receive. Nigeria needs jobs. You must therefore turn these innovative ideas into lucrative businesses.
"If Nigeria were to have a growth rate of 10 per cent and above for the next decade, it needs a strong micro, small and medium enterprises sector and for the small entrepreneurs that make up the sector to be nurtured, there is no doubt that MSMEs are the best vehicles for inclusive growth, to create local demand and consumption and by extension to create jobs", he stated.
He noted that the Trade and Investment ministry along with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and BOI wereworking toward improving MSMEs' access to finance having recognised the crucial role they play in economic development as well as their contribution to employment and GDP.
The minister who was represented at the event by the Chief Executive of Nigeria Leadership Initiative, YinkaOyinlola, further stressed the need to ensure easy access to finance by MSMEs, saying "the increasing partnership between the private and the public sectors and the commitment of the Federal Government to drastically reduce the cost of doing business and tackle the infrastructure challenges facing the SMEs will yield dividend in due course."
In her welcome address delivered by Executive Director BOI, ChirsUmeh, the Managing Director and Chief Executive of the bank, Ms Evelyn Oputu reaffirmed the commitment of BOI to the growth of SMEs in the country.
She noted that more than 90 per cent of the beneficiaries of BOI's "more than N202 billion facilities are MSMEs" adding that the developmental impact of the interventions which include the creation of more than 1.3 million jobs have been considerable.
Also speaking at the forumn, the Vice President, Global Public Affairs for Western Union, Barbara Span stated that "access to capital is one of the most difficult challenges faced by entrepreneurs doing business in Africa."
She added that the live panel discussion with top leading banks would afford SMEs operating in the country and across Sub-Saharan Africa get direct access to financial institutions and technical resource partners.