Lagos — Founder of Heirs Holdings, Tony Elumelu, Prof. Pat Utomi and founder of Life Above Poverty Organisation (LAPO), Godwin Ehigiamusoe, have said weak institutions had posed a significant drag on the nation's economic growth.
They urged governmental to adopt a holistic measures aimed at curbing unnecessary bottlenecks that slows the growth and development of businesses in Nigeria.
Speaking on the theme, 'Galvanizing SMEs for Inclusive Development in Nigeria' at the 24th annual LAPO Development Forum held in Lagos, Ehigiamusoe said, unfriendly business environment, over dependence on oil, poor funding, and inconsistent government policies are some of the major factors responsible for the gross under performance of the SMEs sub-sector.
He called for more coordinated efforts by all stakeholders aimed at galvanizing SMEs towards inclusive development in Nigeria just as it advocated for transparency and accountability at all levels of government to enable SMEs to thrive.
Also, the founder, Heirs Holdings; Tony Elumelu , who was represented by the chief executive officer of Transcorp Group, Adim Jibunoh called for more coordinated efforts by all stakeholders to stimulate SMEs towards inclusive development in Nigeria
While, Utomi, stressed the need for government at all levels to prioritise the ease of doing business, create institutional support for SME growth and ultimately generate more jobs opportunities for the youths. According to him, government needs to strengthen all institutions and regulatory authorities that have involvements on the ease of doing business in Nigeria.
He added that this would give a major push to export SMEs goods across Africa and opportunity for more market on Nigerian products. "SMEs are where most people work. One of the most challenging conversations that we have about economic growth, job creation and all of that is that we are looking for foreign investors, we are looking for big cooperation to come and set up, but what most people want is SMEs.
"If you think about it, the oil industry directly employ less than ten Nigerians but where most people work are in companies that employ just more than 10 people and less than a 100 people so it is important to take this sector seriously."
Elumelu identified SMEs as having a huge potential and the capability to create millions of jobs if the government addresses some of its critical challenges such as inadequate funding, policy inconsistencies among others. Addressing the urgent need to prioritise the sector, Elumelu, noted that the country desperately needed a mechanism for job creation to address inclusiveness and sustainable development.
"SMEs are the engine of growth. When they succeed, they create employment. To get it right we need to continue to prioritise our SMEs and improve the environment for SMEs to succeed," Elumelu said.