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Mr Dikko Radda, the Director-General, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), says the active participation of youths in Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) will enhance Nigeria’s economic development.

Radda said this in Abuja at an event to mark “MSMEs Day 2018: The Youth Dimension’’.

He said the Day centered on “Youth Entrepreneurship and Youth Employment’’, was aimed at bringing to the front burner the strong contributions of businesses worldwide to livelihoods, communities and economies.

To this end, he noted that it was imperative to support MSMEs in order to make them more competitive.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that June 27 every year was set aside by the United Nations to mark the beauty and contributions of MSMEs globally.

According to him, the occasion provides a platform and a unique opportunity for discussions on the importance of MSMEs in youth employment as well as creates awareness on the skills needed by youths to acquire decent jobs.

“There is growing recognition of the important role MSMEs play in economic development, especially youth-run enterprises.

“They play a pivotal role through several pathways that goes beyond employment generation.

“They also contribute significantly toward improving living standards, aiding local capital formation, enhancing innovation and competition in developing economics.

“That is why government at various levels have undertaken initiative to promote the growth and development of MSMEs,’’ he said.

Radda said although young entrepreneurs were facing major business constraints, including but not limited to the choice of the right enterprise and what it takes to own and manage a business.

He added that the youth also face inadequate practical support services such as training, business advice, access to finance and proper entrepreneurial knowledge.

Radda said that the agency had initiated a number of programmes to enhance entrepreneurship development in Nigeria.

He listed the programmes to include the strengthening of business membership organisations, Enterprise Network Initiatives, Commercialisation, Empowerment Initiative for ICT, Financial Empowerment for MSMEs and Credit Information Portal.

Radda listed other programmes as Young Business owners in Nigeria (Y-BON), Conditional Grant Scheme (CGS), Leather Cluster Enterprises Scheme, Garment and Textile Cluster Growth Support Scheme among others.

According to him, it is important to know that relevant business information is key to business survival and growth.

Mr Friday Okpara, the Director, Strategic Partnership and Liaison in SMEDAN, said in Nigeria, majority of the youth operated in the informal economy, saying that it was the agency’s responsibility to mainstream them in the formal sector.

Okpara said youths had been identified as a major driver of poverty reduction and socio-economic development.

NAN reports that the event also featured an exhibition, where operators of small businesses displayed their products.

The director-general said some banks were invited to discuss with exhibitors in order to assist them to access finance to develop their businesses.

The exhibitors called on the government to establish a special scheme to enable them access funds.

Mr Paul Ogar, an exhibitor said he had made several attempts to access funds but to no avail, adding that the condition given by the financial institutions to collect loans were too stringent.

Ogar said the government should mandate SMEDAN to handle the finance aspect in order to make it easier for small business owners.

Another exhibitor, Mrs Rita Obiako called on government to come up with practical and sustainable solutions which would help transform the economy.

Obiako said access to finance was a major constraint hindering MSMEs growth.

She added that most MSMEs operate with little or no business information or data.

“This does not allow them to make informed decisions necessary for optimal performance,’’ Obiako said.

NAN also reports that SMEDAN had earlier organised a “walk’’ from Area 11 to Radio House, Abuja to mark the Day.

The highlight of the occasion was the presentation of awards to some exhibitors for excelling in their businesses.

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