UNGC, others set to tackle MSMEs’ corruption challenge

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’Femi Asu

The United Nations Global Compact is pushing ahead with its effort to support the Micro, Small and Medium-scale Enterprises in Nigeria to tackle the challenge of corruption in a bid to stimulate the growth of the MSME sector.

At the Local Network’s Anti-Corruption Collective Action Incubation Lab Workshop in Lagos, convened by the UNGC Office, New York, and Global Compact Network Nigeria, and supported by Siemens, stakeholders in the MSME sector gathered to shape ideas from previous workshops into concrete projects.

Part of the objectives of the workshop was to develop a project with clear objectives, participating entities as well as timelines for action.

The Chief, Africa, UN Global Compact, Olajobi Makinwa, said, “This workshop is one in a series of workshops geared to work with the MSMEs in setting up standards of behaviour for them so that they can conduct their business with integrity, which is very important. When the MSMEs do business with integrity, they become suppliers of choice to big companies including multinationals.

Makinwa said a number of ideas had been identified as priorities for collective action, adding that “Corruption is at the base of the challenges that the MSMEs are facing; so, if we can address that, it will help in other areas for the MSMEs.”

The Chief Executive Officer, Convention on Business Integrity Limited, Soji Apampa, described corruption as one of the unchecked risks damaging the growth prospect of the nation’s economy.

He said, “It is the larger businesses who have been engaged in discussions around dealing with corruption. But those larger companies are only four per cent of the private sector; 96 per cent are micro, small and medium enterprises. So, if we are going to do something, we have to work with the MSMEs.

“We want to take a holistic view about what it is that MSMEs can do about fixing corruption. It is MSMEs that suffer mostly from the kinds of things that bigger companies can stand up to. So, if they do not come together as a collective force to do something, they will suffer more.”

The Contact Person, UNGC Local Network, and Project Manager for the collective action project, Feyisayo Fatona-Ajayi, said, “After a couple of general workshops that we had with stakeholders, this issue of MSMEs as the most vulnerable to corruption began to come up, and it became imperative to look inwards and see what we can do to help MSMEs to be able to break out of this cycle of corruption.”

“How can they do business better if they don’t have to struggle with corruption issues every day? How does this strengthen them as employers of labour and help them to become more ethical and become sustainable companies in the long run?”

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