Following the United Nations General Assembly resolution of 6 April 2017 designating 27 June as Micro-, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSME) Day in recognition of the need to improve small business access to microfinance and credit, the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Nigeria in collaboration with the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), on 28 June 2017 held the first ever observance of MSMEs Day at the Commerce House Lagos Nigeria. The event was attended by 110 stakeholders including media.
Addressing the participants, the Director of UNIC, Mr Ronald Kayanja, who was represented by the National Information Officer, Mr Oluseyi Soremekun, advocated increased support to MSMEs in Nigeria. “The goal of MSME Day is to raise public awareness of the contribution of Micro-, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises to sustainable development and advocate for and provide increased support to MSMEs.” He noted. “Micro-, small and medium enterprises”, Mr Kayanja explained further, “are the first responders to societal needs. They are responsible for significant employment and income generation opportunities across the world and have been identified as a major driver of poverty alleviation and development.”
The Director emphasized that MSMEs tend to employ a larger share of the vulnerable sectors of the workforce, such as women, youth, and people from poorer households; and “Efforts to enhance access to finance for SMEs across key sectors of national economies are an important element of implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”
He added that SDG targets 8.3 and 9.3 called for enhancing the access of SMEs to financial services. In addition, SMEs are an important element in the implementation of SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth) and SDG 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure).
In her remarks on the occasion, the President of LCCI, Dr (Mrs) Nike Akande, observed that the major challenges facing MSMEs in Nigeria include poor access to credit; lack of bankable business plans, competitive marketing strategy, standard accounting systems as well as dearth of requisite vocational and technical skills, inadequate infrastructure, unstable policy and regulatory environment.
She called for a stable policy and regulatory environment that supports the reforms on the ease of doing business in Nigeria. Similarly, Dr Akande recommended that the issues of taxation, trade and foreign exchange policies should be managed in line with international best practices.