In a conversation with Mr. Ebiekure Jasper Eradiri, Secretary-General of All Africa Association for Small and Medium Enterprise (AAASME) explains an overview of the status of SMEs in the African Region.
Strategic efforts by the Niger Delta Region Governments are now changing the narratives of the region. The region now attracts empowerment programmes from other organisations. SMEs have been identified as a priority sector and strategic efforts are getting framed in order to establish a business-oriented ecosystem for SMEs. We can, therefore, take a cue from the Bayelsa SME’s development experience.
Commenting on the common challenges that SMEs of African region are facing, Mr. Eradiri says, “Challenges that SMEs are facing in the African region are varied and very contemporary. From access to markets to access to credit are some of the major challenges that the SMEs are facing in our region. These chain eggs needed to get resolved through innovative means. Conventional solutions may not work here. Entrepreneurs are motivated and high in potential but they need exposure at the same time they need support from the business ecosystem.”
He pointed out issues such as Ease of Doing Business and said, “Ease of Doing Business is an identified challenge here in the region. Being highly informal in nature, African SMEs often becomes worrisome in managing them. We believe that good initiatives are getting framed by building a bridge between large corporates and SMEs. Regulatory barriers are also getting addressed. We are looking forward to contributing to establishing enabling pro-business ecosystem.”
However, commenting on the efforts that local state governments are making in order to motivate SMEs of the region, Mr. Eradiri mentioned, “One of the greatest achievements of the Bayelsa state government under the leadership of Governor Henry Seriake Dickson is the huge investment in small and medium businesses with the aim of empowering the teeming population and creating employment opportunities,” he also added, “Governor Seriake Dickson’s administrations investment in this sector is driven by the Bayelsa State Microfinance and Enterprise Development Agency (BYMEDA). The Agency was established in the year 2013 with the enabling Law passed in 2014 the agency has continued to expand the frontiers of business through numerous programmes.”
MSME’s activities carried out in Bayelsa State between 2013 and 2019. Further elaborating, Mr Eradiri mentioned some of the flagship programs that are announced and executed to motivate entrepreneurs from the SME domain from the African region are as follows:
Activities and scorecard
Linkage to CBN Entrepreneurial Development (EDC)
Bayelsa State Government trained 120 Bayelsan Youths at the south-south CBN entrepreneurial Development Centre in Calabar. They were then empowered with (N500,000.00) Five Hundred Thousand Naira only each by the agency.
Disbursement of Funds
Sequel to the establishment of BYMEDA the government of Bayelsa state created at the first instance, a revolving microfinance fund to the tune of N300,000.00 (Three hundred million Naira only) for the empowerment of 480 women co-operative societies spread across the Eight Local Government areas of the state.
Pre Disbursement Workshop
Prior to the disbursement of N300,000,000.00 women co-operatives empowerment fund, a pre-disbursement training was organized to ensure purposeful utilization by beneficiaries
Empowerment of Eppie/Atissa Women Co-operatives
Capacity building programme were conducted for Epie/Atissa women co-operatives by the Agency.
Establishment of a state-owned Microfinance Bank
It was imperative at a time that a state owned microfinance Bank should be put in place to prudently pilot the disbursement of funds successfully accessed by the agency. This prompted the establishment and commission of what is today known as Izon Microfinance Bank (IMB) on 22nd October, 2015.
The Agency successfully and disbursed N2billion Naira Central Bank of Nigeria powered Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development (MSMED) intervention fund, received in three (3) tranches. Conservatively, this scheme has created over 7000 direct and indirect jobs. The Agency also organized capacity building programmes for the CBN-MSMEDF beneficiaries in the State.
Business Idea Bank
The Agency launched Business Banks in the state to enable it generate and collate business ideas, analyze them and then provide support for MSMEs.
The Agency carries out several field visits to MSMEs in the State that benefitted from the CBN-MSMEDF and other schemes piloted by it.
Participation at African SME Expo
Team Bayelsa led by the Deputy Governor attended the 2017 African SME Expo where Made in Bayelsa Products were showcased to the Hon. Minister of Trade.
Bank of Industry fund for SMEs
BYMEDA, as the Special purpose Vehicle, has commenced with accessing the Bank of Industry (BOI) fund for SMEs, been mandated by the State Government.
2018 Africa SME Roundtable
BYMEDA successfully co-hosted the 2018 Africa SME Roundtable in March this year on behalf of Bayelsa State Government as the State was given the right to do so. During the event, BYMEDA launched the Compendium of SME Activities by the Restoration Government detailing the registered Micro, Small and Medium enterprises operating in the State.
SMEs Dialogue Series
BYMEDA has created a quarterly progamme known as “SMEs Dialogue Series”. It is aimed at not only reaching out to stakeholders in this subsector but also as a platform to provide continuous engagement with existing and potential entrepreneurs in the State.
To ascertain the number of micro, small and medium enterprises operating in the state, BYMEDA decided to create a database of all MSMEs. This is aimed at facilitating the Agency’s on-lending activities.
GEEP market Moni Program
The Agency in collaboration with the Bank of Industry (BOI) introduced the Government Enterprise Empowerment Program (GEEP)
Flag Off/Commissioning of the Bayelsa State Enterprise Start-up HUB (BESH) and ICT/TECHHUB)
The flag off of the Government factory and commissioning of the ICT HUB marks another Beginning of implementation of our partnership of the (N2.5BN BYSG/BOI Business Development fund.