By Ifeanyi Nwoko
Ahead of the Micro Small and Medium Enterprises’ (MSMEs) awards, the Nigerian Export Import Bank (NEXIM) and the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) have certified some made in Nigeria products as suitable for export.
The duo gave the certification at an exhibition held at the NEPC headquarters in Abuja by the shortlisted SMEs for the award ceremony which is to be held on Thursday.
They said that the award was also an avenue to identify good products that can be packaged properly for export.
The Chief Executive Officer of NEPC, Segun Awolowo while fielding questions from newsmen said that he was satisfied that many of the products seen on exhibition were export ready.
He said that he was marveled at the ingenuity and creative ability of Nigerians which always left him convinced that the country had a lot more resources than oil.
While acknowledging that the products were export ready, he said that part of the aim of the award was also to get the MSMEs recognized enough to get good partnerships that could lead to exports.
“This is what we have been saying all over the country, the ide behind it is to take the regulators closer to the MSMEs in all the states.
“The exhibition has been very rewarding, they have now decided that all the people we have seen so far, let us create a reward system for them so that they will be known and that will also help them attract investors.
“I am really amazed by what we have seen so far, the amount of creativity and ingenuity that Nigerians have makes you really proud.
“There is a future for this country aside from oil and I am really proud that we are participating in this,” he said.
He said that the council would support the awardees with the relevant support to begin to export their products, explaining that the ‘Zero to export’ clinics of the NEPC would be very beneficial to them.
“There are different categories of course: the one you take to Central Africa is different from the one you take to America or to Australia, so we look at it and we get them ready,” he said.
On the Issue of funding which has continued to plagues SMEs, the Managing Director of NEXIM Bank Mr Abba Bello that part of the activities involved in the National MSMEs Clinic was to link small businesses to access to funds.
He explained that the issue of funding was why the clinic brought together all relevant agencies, including the ones that provide funds to a one-stop shop for small businesses in states.
“So if a business wants to do anything, all the agencies that deal with registration, certification and even funding are all in one place.
“We hear that access to finance is a problem: government is aware of that and that is why all the development banks are part of the agencies that are in this MSMEs Clinic.
“BOI, DBN which is a bank specific for MSMEs, NEXIM Bank are all part of this. So as far as funding is concerned, we are assisting as much as we can to ensure that the right kind of funding are given,” he said.
Many of the exhibitors and would-be awardees raised the issue of funding, lack of equipment and poor patronage as part of the problems plaguing the.
On the issue of patronage, Mr Tola Adekunle Johnson, Special Assistant to the Vice President on MSMEs assured that the current administration was doing everything possible to engender patronage of locally produced goods.
He said that the President Buhari as well as Vice President Osinbajo were bith looking forward to the awards.
In the sight of some people it may seem like nothing, but being recognized by the highest office in the country will be a huge motivation to the young businesses.
“You are aware of the local content policy; the government is very serious about that: patronizing made in Nigeria goods is at the heart of the policies of the administration and the government is pushing to get it right.
That is why the President says everywhere he goes that we must dig deep and look inwards in everything that we do,” he said.
He assured that all was set for the awards on Thursday.
Our correspondent reports that many of the exhibitors came from outside Abuja and some of the products on exhibition includes: locally made cosmetic products, organic baby products, shoes and clothing, furniture and plastic products, wedding gowns and accessories as well as arts and crafts.
Also part of the MSMEs exhibition were two children who said they decided to start their own business at an early age so as not to depend on government or contribute to the growing number of unemployment in Nigeria.