Eliminating barriers that inhibit the growth of startups and growing businesses in Nigeria continues to take centre stage as part of 9mobiles commitment to building a vibrant SMEs sector. Correspondent VICTORIA OMUYA USMAN reports.
Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) are the stimulants of growth and key drivers of socio-economic transformation in any country, especially in an ever expanding business environment like Nigeria. They are the core sector that spur the national economic objectives in terms of employment engagement at minimal costs.
According to the SMEDAN report 2013, we have 37 million registered SMEs in Nigeria which is responsible for a whopping 48.9 % of the total GDP of Nigeria, despite the enormous economic challenges. One of the major obstacles many Small and Medium scale Enterprises (SMEs) encounter is access to the right market. This needs to be addressed in order to tap into the opportunity for growth, sustainability and profitability.
In a Market that lacks proper segmentation as well as adequate economic assistance for its enlargement, it is imperative to create a platform that would essentially empower SMEs and position them for expansion, which in turn creates economic value.
In furtherance of 9mobiles strategic value proposition as an innovative, business-centric network, the multiple award winning telco has continued to place itself at the forefront of promoting the development of Small and Medium scale Enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria through a number of platforms and initiatives. One of such platforms is Market Access, a quarterly business networking and empowerment platform that enables owners of small and growing businesses to interact with those of larger corporations, with the objective of sharing knowledge and strategies that engender the growth of enterprises.
The Market Access initiative was launched in May 2011, and is a collaboration of 9mobile, Enterprise Development Centre of the Pan Atlantic University, and Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN). Since its inception, the platform has enabled SMEs to network and develop productive and beneficial relationships. The 9mobile-sponsored platform has also toured key regions in the country including Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Enugu, reaching tens of thousands of local entrepreneurs
This year, 9mobile organized Market Access sessions in Enugu, Abuja and Lagos; with the platform affording owners of small and large businesses across towns and cities in the regions, the opportunity to share current trends and other useful information that foster healthy growth for the thriving Nigerias SMEs sector.
Speaking on the significance of the Market Access initiative, Director, Enterprise Segment, 9mobile, Plato Syrimis, said Market Access is one of many ways that 9mobile supports start-ups and encourages Nigerians to pursue their business goals. To demonstrate our passion for promoting SMEs, 9mobile through Market Access enables up-and -coming entrepreneurs to acquire much required knowledge by bringing them in contact with other entrepreneurs, in order to exchange information and learn new ideas and/or practices that are necessary for running successful businesses, he stated.
Syrimis added that the telco supports entrepreneurs with an array of innovative enterprise solutions and platforms such as the Online Ecommerce Portal (www.smearena.com.ng), MoreBusiness 2.0 Plans, Morebusiness Millionaire Hunt, 9mobile Prize for Innovation and 9mobile Prize for Literature amongst others, assuring that 9mobile will continue to be at the forefront of promoting the growth of SMEs in Nigeria.
Over the past six years since its launch, the Market Access initiative has been well acknowledged by the federal and state governments as a major support to current efforts aimed at promoting the SMEs segment being the key driver of national economic development. Several entrepreneurs who have benefitted from this 9mobile initiative have also applauded its positive impact on their businesses.
The Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Hajiya Aisha Abubakar, speaking during the 17th edition of Market Access in Abuja, commended 9mobile for its passion for the growth of Nigerian SMEs; and said the telcos demonstration of support for small businesses aligned with the Federal Governments policy of economic diversification.
We commend efforts such as 9mobiles Market Access and many other SME activities geared towards the growth of the Nigerian economy. We encourage other organisations and SMEs to key into the new economic drive to grow the Nigerian economy through local content development, she said.
The Enugu State Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Sam Ogbu-Nwobodo, while speaking during the 16th edition of Market Access in Enugu, applauded the telco for its unwavering commitment and contribution to the growth of SMEs in Nigeria, and encouraged SME owners to apply the knowledge afforded them by the Market Access initiative to ensure sustainability of their businesses.
In todays world of technology there are no borders again. You have the opportunity to transact business with foreign and local partners and customers over the internet; it is up to you to make use of the opportunities presented by modern technology, he said.
Beneficiaries have also applauded 9mobile for the immense benefits they have derived from the initiative. Managing Director, El-Hannora Global Investment limited, Adayi Joseph Unogwu, said the forum has availed him great insight on risks associated with running a business, as well as the strategies and tactics to avert the risks.
General Manager, Programs and Partnership, Enterprise Development Centre, Pan Atlantic University, Wale Anifowose, said the benefits of Market Access initiative include networking and relationship building opportunities. The main goal of Market Access Forum is to facilitate market access for SMEs by keying them into the value chain of large organisations, bridging the gap, and enabling local content development and participation in various sectors of the Nigerian economy.