The Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, says the future of Nigeria and the youth depends on the growth and development of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).
Hamzat made the assertio while delivering a keynote address at the Fidelity Bank SME Funding Connect-Lagos on Wednesday.
He said that MSMEs played a big role in the vitalisation and development of national economy.
The deputy governor said that MSMEs provided huge employment opportunities and that the state government under Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu would be aggressive at providing enabling environment.
“It is important to understand the role of SMEs. My understanding is that we have about 1,500 or thereabout SMEs that can connect or interact with investors.
“A lot of people rely on SMEs directly or indirectly because entrepreneurs no matter how small or big, will play roles to contribute to labour, poverty alleviating and revenue generation.
“So, SMEs around the world play big roles in the vitalisation and development of national economy. By creating jobs, they promote stability and develop regional economies.
“We know that many good ideas have died because they lack funding. So, access to capital or more importantly, lack of access to capital is the biggest threat to entrepreneurs around the world,” he said.
Hamzat said that Lagos State was setting aside N25 billion for Small and Medium businesses so that at least it would encourage them to do their businesses.
“The future of our country, the future of our young people depends on us growing SMEs. It is extremely important.”
Hamzat, who said that entrepreneurs needed a clear path to succeed, added that the government was poised about making them achieve their dreams, become employers of labour and exporters of goods.
According to him, SMEs that try to export their products do better than those that try to serve their local economy, while urging stakeholders to identify SMEs that can be exporting products to diversify the nation’s economy.
“Globally, SMEs or entrepreneurs are the engines of social and economic transformation, including industrialisation; they provide vital platform to enhance technological and entrepreneurial capacity among various segments of people.
“The critical importance of this sector warrants that much more attention should be given to it by all stakeholders,” he added.
Hamzat said that world frontline economies came as a result of solid SMEs.
He said that the state government’s commitment to grow businesses was encapsulated in its THEME programme which are: Transportation and Traffic Management; Health and Environment.
Others are: Education and Technology, Making Lagos 21 Century Economy, Entertainment and Tourism, and Security.
He said that since transport was critical to business, the government had revived three Asphalt plants in the state for the production of asphalt for road repair and maintenance.
Hamzat said that since 1999, the state government had been focusing on innovative programmes to grow SMEs and Sanwo-Olu-led government would redouble efforts to deepen its growth.
According to him, the state’s IBILE Micro Finance Bank, Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) and others had helped a lot of people with genuine business ideas.
He said the government would continue to invest in infrastructure to aid growth of SMEs to reduce unemployment, noting that in the last four years, LSETF had funded 10, 656 SMEs.
Nnamdi Okonkwo, the Chief Executive Officer/Managing Director of Fidelity Bank, Nigeria, said that MSMEs had contributed its fair share to the development of Nigeria.
Okonkwo said that it had employed over 80 per cent of the country’s total 90.5 million labour force and contributed 48 per cent to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the event had in attendance a lot of young entrepreneurs, business chiefs among others.