By Yolamchi Ukaga, Umuahia
Mr. Onyema Wachuku, commissioner, Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises Development (MSMED) has said that his ministry will compile and publish the first “Abia Business Directory”, to create visibility, credibility, identity and access to credit for all entrepreneurs under the programme. Wachuku stated this, Thursday, in Aba, at the 4th Abia Small and Medium Enterprises Forum (ABSMEF), organised by Wider Perspectives Limited, a management consultancy firm. He explained that the state government’s partnership with Wider Perspectives Limited, is to provide support to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the state to grow their businesses. This paper reports that Abia SME Forum is a private sector driven initiative, which provides stakeholders engagement, aimed at promoting entrepreneurship development, by connecting entrepreneurs to global opportunities, thereby, facilitating business linkages. Wachuku, in his keynote address, observed that the forum offers entrepreneurs chance to network and discuss pertinent issues around doing business, including accessing available funding opportunities. He described advocacy as a veritable need that can be met in the forum, as issues affecting businesses are discussed and solutions proffered. “This was the case in 2016 at the 3rd Abia SME Forum, when the issue of multiple taxation was discussed with the deputy governor and, today that issue is being managed efficiently.
It was also in that gathering that the governor offered to register business names free of charge for SMEs that had none. “I can stand tall here to inform you that in less than a month, about 200 SMEs will have their businesses registered with Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), free, under the instrumentality of the government of Abia State”. The commissioner observed further that SMEs continuously play significant roles in the growth, development and industrialisation of many economies of the world, of which Nigeria is no different. In the case of Abia, he said that SMEs have been resiliently driving commerce in spite of the many challenges they face, a development he noted the state government was aware of and is working hard to ensure that the state is put in the global map, as one of the commercial hubs of the world. “Therefore, the state is anxiously and methodically driving its infrastructure efforts with the massive construction and rehabilitation of our road infrastructure. This can easily be the case given the potentials and creative nature of SMEs in the state, as we know the potentials for SMEs to drive growth, development, industrialisation, wealth and job creation and poverty reduction are enormous. “More so, technology is taking a wider role, the maximisation of these potentials require paradigm shift, especially on how we think and handle business opportunities, if we must play in the global space and connect with the global value chains”. He thanked Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, for his selfless, passionate and relentless efforts to build and grow capacity of SMEs in the state. Edughom Hanson, managing director, Wider Perspectives Limited, explained that the business linkage forum is the firm’s way of contributing to the social development goal (SDG 17) strengthening the means of implementation and revitalisation of the world economy. She stated that Wider Perspectives interest in instituting the annual forum, from inception, is to provide entrepreneurs access to finance, wealth and job creation, market linkages, export opportunity and networking, through the various interactions that happen during the forum and beyond. Wider Perspective Limited, in partnership with Abia State government through its Ministry of SME Development and with the support of Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Foundation for Partnership Initiative in the Niger Delta (PIND), GVE Projects
and Aba Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (ACCIMA) made the 4th Abia SME Forum a success. The theme of the 4th Abia SME Forum was “Linking SMEs to Global Value Chains”.