The federal government has been asked to introduce an urgent Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) support programme for businesses in Computer Village, Nigeria’s largest technology market cluster based in Ikeja, Lagos.
Mrs. Nike Shittu, CEO of Mojoy Computers Limited, made the call urging the government and its relevant agencies to aid Computer Village SMEs as critical segment of the information and communication technology (ICT) industry in Nigeria.
“We need help within that cluster, and I don’t think that we can be seen from afar by the Federal Government alone. I think that there are bodies and Ministries and other institutions that can push our interest”, the Mojoy CEO said, adding that since she started doing business in the market in year 2000, Computer Village has evolved to become the leading technology business hub in Nigeria.
But for the Mojoy CEO, “I think it’s so unfortunate that the government does not support the SMEs because they form the backbone of the economy of many countries because the small businesses gather small number of people and before you know it, they are taking unemployment out of the country.”
She explains further that, “I could do much more than I’m doing, but I know I have limited capital. We have never ever been encouraged by the government like ‘how can we help you to grow this business?’ By the time you go to the bank, by the time they ask you for all manner of things, property and all that, means they don’t even believe in us. After all that, imagine them coming with a proposal of two million for somebody like me. What will I do with two million?”
She called on “institutions like NITDA (National Information Technology Development Agency), Ministry of Communication, Information, other ministries, other parastatals, that can bring the attention of our need to the federal government where we can be helped and be given facilities that will be within unit interest that can help us, and that can sustain us because borrowing at 28 per cent, 30 per cent is like we are just working for the bank. We just need help in this area very seriously and very urgently because a lot of people are already taking off from the market.”
The urgently-needed federal government support has become necessary to check migration of SMEs from Computer Village into the Nigerian job market, Shittu said and also encouraged more women and youth in the country to take up entrepreneurship.
“But the point is that whoever wants to do business should look beyond their sex. Let them assess the business. Because at a point I only wanted to do what I love to do. I don’t want to work just for money alone. I want to love what I do and that’s what I’ve been doing. I love this business. That’s my number one motivation. Number two motivation is I like challenges. Whatever challenges me, I want to deal with it. That’s what has kept me going and I want to tell every woman, wherever you find yourself first and foremost see yourself as an entrepreneur, A typical entrepreneur is a risk taker”, she tells fellow women in business.
Shittu has an advice for the woman entrepreneur that should “know exactly what you’re doing because these days you can only take calculated risks. Why take stupid risks? Don’t look at anybody. You’re doing business. Don’t look at what anybody is saying and don’t do anything beyond your capacity. That’s how a woman should look at things.”
The Mojoy CEO also advised Nigerians youths on entrepreneurship. “I want to encourage the young school leavers not to think that the government has to provide them with jobs; it has to be white collar jobs; it has to be this and it has to be that. Now, if you can travel out of this country, go out there and go and do whatever is available to make money, what stops you from doing whatever business you can do for a start here too to make some little money and then from there grow the business”, she said.