The Nigerian Association of Small Scale Industrialists (NASSI) is partnering with the Centre for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), United States to improve Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the country.
Chief Solomon Vongfa , the NASSI National President while making this known to journalists in Abuja at the weekend said the partnership was to encourage best practices.
According to Vongfa, the partnership became necessary in view of the challenges faced by the association as well as the zeal to propel MSMEs to be effective and well grounded.
“Due to some lapses discovered in the management of the association, we sought for help through the CIPE, U.S.A and it intervened by sending its consultants to drill the association on good governance,’’ Vongfa said.
Vongfa said based on that, CIPE has held a Diagnostic Meeting with NASSI aimed at studying the association to overhaul its operation.
He said based on that meeting, there was an action plan that would run for three years for the association.
“The diagnostic meeting revealed certain areas in which the management of the association has problems. As part of its strategic plan, CIPE has to redo our statutory plan to suit international best practice. The implementation will start mid-September,’’ he noted.
Vongfa, however, called on the National Executive Committee members of NASSI, who were the statutory body to give necessary corrections and approve the outcome of the meeting for implementation.
It would be recalled that the MSMEs survey in 2017 showed that the MSMEs recorded about 41 million entrepreneurs in the country.
He said the survey was carried out by its regulatory agency, the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) in collaboration with the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
The national president added that the survey revealed that among the 41 million MSMEs recorded, about 37 million were micro and the smaller level.
“This is to show that majority of people doing business in Nigeria based on the survey are at micro level, which is the centre of our own sector,” Vongfa said.
Describing NASSI as the bedrock of the MSMEs in the country, he decried the challenges bedeviling it, which, according to him, included lack of funds that affected its growth.
“The government should take it very serious and intervene by injecting more funds into the MSMEs; people are willing to take loan and pay back, but the major issue is recovering the loans.
“When you have Business Management Organisations (BMOs) behind any disbursement, you will recover the loan effectively.
“If there is sufficient funding, there will be more job creation and poverty reduction. It goes simultaneously,” Vongfa added.
On the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, Vongfa said initially NASSI was not fully prepared for it, but with the intervention by CIPE and their noting of the benefits of the agreement, NASSI must be part of it.
“We are also encouraging government to support by providing machines and equipment that can improve production and quality of products to boost competitiveness. That is the key to implementing the AfCFTA agreement.
“Why we cannot be very competitive with the global issue is the problem of finishing of the products of some of our members which is very poor. If the packaging is not sophisticated it will not move in the market.
“Packaging is one of the outcomes from the CIPE diagnostic meeting because you have to be attractive for patronage.
“We are taking our advocacy to government; you cannot do a policy that will favour only the conglomerate or the big companies while we the major sector of the economy suffer it most.
“If we cannot compete due to lack of support and fund, the AfCFTA agreement will be a disadvantage to us. But if this understanding is there, it will help us,” he said.
NASSI, which has the mandate to promote MSMEs, was established more than 40 years. It has offices in all states of the federation, including the Federal Capital Territry (FCT).
CIPE seeks to strengthen democracy around the globe through private enterprise and market-oriented reform.