The Minister of Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah on Friday identified lack of requisite information and pessismism as core reasons why most medium and small scale enterprises (MSMEs) and entrepreneurs in Nigeria do not access government financing to grow their businesses.
He said the numerous sources of financing provided by the current administration were not being explored by many, thereby causing such funds to lie dormant in the administering government entities.
Mr Enelamah, who addressed a group of aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners at a skills acquisition and empowerment programme organised by The Everlasting Arms Parish (TEAP) under the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Abuja also said Nigerian business men and women should hold government officials accountable in the process of applying for government loans as these officials are paid to serve the people.
Mr Enelamah, who spoke under the theme: ‘Connect, Empower and Grow’, also listed avenues through which businesses can get funding for their enterprises.
“Respect is reciprocal. If you serve the people, they will serve you too. If you are heavy handed, it will have negative effect on you at the end. You must remember that you are being paid to serve these people (entrepreneurs),” said Mr Enelamah while responding to the difficulties businesses face in the hands of government officials while applying for funding.
He urged budding entrepreneurs to explore the avenues of getting funding for their businesses from entities such as the Central Bank of Nigeria, SMEDAN and the Bank of Industry, where he said the government had deposited huge funds at interest friendly rates. He added that Nigerians hardly explore these opportunities.
He also listed the measures taken so far by the government to improve the business environment which include, ease of doing business policy, the national economic action plans, digital apps to where firms can register complaints, a bill in progress to identify gaps in the business environment and panacea and also the creation of special economic zones.
“Some of these economic zones which we are already working on include Lekki Free Zone, Eyinmba City, Calabar, Kano and Funtua. These zones are being empowered with the necessary infrastructures and facilities to ensure that businesses thrive while having all they need to operate maximally.
“We also have an industrial council headed by the vice president in place. The council, which met this morning focuses on some key areas of the economy. These include: critical infrastructure provision, vocational training, trade and market access, policy for rapid economic growth and also funding,” Mr Enelamah explained.
Mr Enelamah said the core mandate of the present government was how to enhance private sector development by creating an enabling environment and also effect regional economic integration.
“We already have the Nigeria Office for Trade Negotiations in place. The office is looking at incentives available for businesses and his these can be improved, tax relief, expert expansion initiatives and specific interventions,” the minister, who is also a pastor in the RCCG added.
One of the organisers of the event, Bello Bissala said the programme, which is first in a series was put together to provide reliable information for entrepreneurs who were hampered by lack of funds or job/investment opportunities and are on the verge of giving up.
TEAP pastor, Eva Azodoh, also reacting urged the participants to explore the funding opportunities outlined rather than griping about lack of cash to establish or sustain their enterprises.