KEYNOTE ADDRESS DELIVERED BY HIS EXCELLENCY, MR AKINWUNMI AMBODE, GOVERNOR OF LAGOS STATE AT THE SMALL BUSINESS SUMMIT ON THRUSDAY, NOVEMBER 16TH 2017 AT TERRA KULTURE, 1376 TIAMIYU SAVAGE STREET, VICTORIA ISLAND, LAGOS.
Let me use this opportunity to congratulate and appreciate SME100Nigeria for putting together this annual summit to discuss the impact of policies that will affect small and medium scale businesses in Nigeria. I am aware that every edition of this Summit has been dedicated to addressing specific issues affecting the survival and growth of SMEs. This year’s theme “Creating Exponential Institutions: How government and small business can keep up with the market” is very apt as it underscores the need for effective partnership between government through its institutions and the organised stakeholders in the SMEs.
As one of Nigeria’s most endowed economies, Lagos undoubtedly has a lot of business opportunities with a population of over twenty million (20 million) people noted for their high level resourcefulness and entrepreneurial acumen. The present Administration in its drive to proffer solutions to the challenges confronting the operators of MSMEs’ in the State, established the Ministry of Wealth Creation and Employment and the Employment Trust Fund with a clear mandate to implement policies aimed at enhancing the capacity of MSME’s to maximise their contribution to economic growth and development.
The Employment Trust Fund was primarily set up to address the challenge of lack of access to funding amongst several others. To ensure its sustainability and effectiveness, we established a board comprising mostly experienced people from the private sector to manage the process of identifying beneficiaries, disbursement of funds as well as giving technical support necessary for the success of business enterprises.
The response shown by young people to this initiative in terms of the number of business proposals received by the Fund on a daily basis has been encouraging and it shows the willingness of young people to take advantage of opportunities when given. As I speak, over 5.3billion Naira has been disbursed to over 6,000 beneficiaries who are at different stages of executing their business plans.
We are not unaware of the fact that the challenges faced by SMEs do not start and end with access to credit facilities. This is why beneficiaries are also given the necessary support in the areas of management/entrepreneurial skills, the basic principles of business management and technical support. Just a few days ago, over one thousand artisans and tradesmen in different vocations completed a training programme organised by the State government to enhance their capacity and move them to the next level.
On that occasion, I expressed the willingness of the State government to accord greater recognition to them in terms of patronage of the products of the MSEs in line with out Buy Made in Nigeria Campaign. In addition, we have also made a commitment to engage the services of small and medium scale artisans in the execution of government contracts.
I wish to also disclose that we have institutionalised an annual fair which is exclusively organised for the MSEs in the State to showcase their products for patronage by the general public. Apart from this, MSMEs are granted free access to and opportunity to showcase their products at the annual International Trade FAIR organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industries.
We are committed to partner with the Organised Private Sector in the provision of critical infrastructure such as power, water, inter-modal transportation, waste management among many other initiatives. All of these are geared towards making life more meaningful to our people and enhancing the productive capacities of our entrepreneurs.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, as we strive to institutionalise the support policies and programmes aimed at enhancing the capacity of MSMEs, it is extremely important for all of us to encourage the growth of this important sector by resolving to patronise their products. We must significantly reduce our taste for foreign made goods which is detrimental to the survival and growth of SMEs and their capacity to create wealth and generate employment for our teeming unemployed youths.
On our part, we will continue to generate opportunities for MSME’s to thrive by focusing on development of infrastructure and other processes to improve and enhance the competitiveness and productivity of MSMEs in the State.
I look forward to the recommendations of this Summit with a view to strengthening the capacity if MSME-focused institutions and policies in Lagos State.
I wish you a successful seminar.
Thank you and God bless you all.
Itesiwaju Ipinle Eko, lo je wa logun!!!
Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode,
Governor of Lagos State,