Nigerian SMEs need market access –Sofekun

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By Chinwendu Obienyi

Managing Director, Investment One Vencap Limited, Ore Sofekun, has said that Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) need better access to the Nigerian market to prevent the extinction of locally made goods.

Speaking at the 2017 Budget of Growth and Recovery Panel Session organised by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in Lagos, last week, she noted that there has been slow growth in the SMEs due to low patronage of locally made goods, urging the government to create better access to market.

“We need to patronise locally made goods. I have seen some very fine Nigerian made ties, pocket-squares, shoes, sandals, bags and even ankara made sneakers. We all really need to go back and start patronising SMEs. Kia didn’t become what it is today overnight, it was because somebody kept patronising it.

“SMEs need access to market because a lot of people today use social media to advertise their goods just because they can’t afford to get a shop. Maybe the government can also look into something like where made-in-Nigeria becomes something that one can buy in different centres or anywhere within the country.

There is need to encourage SMEs that way otherwise, they are going to die away if people are not buying from them,” she said.

Sofekun further said: “We need to connect the dots. Today SMEs get some intervention funds at 9 per cent, maybe from Bank of Industry (BoI), but it’s only for equipment; they won’t get working capital. So there is need to make sure that we close that cycle and then the banks are able to get useful rate at 21 per cent effectively or they are not going to lend at anything lower than 25-28 per cent to an SME.”

The Investment One Vencap Limited boss then advised the government to do better in funding and also lower interest rates for growing businesses.

“We need to make sure that if the government is really interested in creating intervention fund, it needs to make sure that all parts of the business are being funded. If we are going to keep the interest rate high, the SMEs need much lower interest rate so that they can survive,” she said.

Corroborating, Chief Executive Officer, Quest Advisory Service Limited, Bayo Rotimi, said he would like to see more capital made available to SMEs to ensure continuous growth in the sector and also for job creation. 

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