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SME Funding: Experts Join CREM, SMEDAN, Chart New Course

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Considering the role of SMEs in economic development especially developing countries of Africa, experts, SMEDAN and stakeholders, came together in Lagos recently to chart a new course for SME funding in Nigeria during a business forum organised by Centre for Research in Enterprise and Action in Management, (CREM) on SME funding in Nigeria.
The lead discussant, Prof. Joseph Nnanna said that there is need for proper understanding of parties involved in SME funding in Nigeria so that desired results will be achieved at the end of the day. He said further that Nigerian case is different from what is obtained in abroad.
Another speaker, Dean, Noel Ihebuzor, (PhD) said, “SMEs play important role not only in sustaining the economy but in creating jobs, creating revenue space and opportunities for families to take care of themselves.
He said that by the very nature of the business, SMEs need funds and if the arrangement of these funds could be available to them, SMEs will go a long way.
According to Ihebuzor, there are certain things preventing funds getting to the people who need it and that informed this discussion to identify those obstacles. He cited unfavourable government policy, improper implementation, accessibility obstacles etc, saying further that the instrument and vehicles to get money for SMEs should be made available if the sector must develop and contribute its quota in nation building.
SME funding should not call for equity, collateral, but collateral, and he suggested that the banks should look into the segment of SMEs that need collateral and those that need not.
Continuing, Ihebuzor said that another obstacle against SME growth in Nigeria is multiple taxation which reduces the money SMEs get at the end of the day. If you have to pay tax in the local government, pay tax at the state level and Federal level, all of that is taking a plunge, so there is need for more clarity on taxation.
In addition to that, Director, Babcock Centre for Executive Development, Prof. Johnson Egwakhe in his view said that SMEs are drivers of economies and if we leave them behind, we are ruining that economy.
However, he said that the issue of enablment goes beyond providing the fund. He said that capacity building is most important to sustain their investment, because many of them with laudable ideas are still having the challenges of how to push forward.
He said: “I believe one with a great idea can source for fund outside the policy maker with zero interest to pay capital and grow business. I also believe that your family members can fund your ideas and pay back if you have to pay.”
Also I believe that if my idea is bigger than me and I have a market for it I can sell my personal property to fund it.”

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Stakeholders Meet To Assess Nigeria’s Preparedness For AFCFTA

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Stakeholders are expected to converge in Lagos today to take a look at the Nigeria’s preparedness to maximize the gains of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). 
The Tide learnt that stakeholders will be converging at the instance of a popular online newspaper, Primetime Reporters, to assess the progress made so far by the Federal Government through the National Action Committee on AfCFTA agreement.
The event which is the Third Annual Lecture and Awards of the online medium has as its theme: “Assessing Nigeria’s Preparedness to Maximize the Gains of AfCFTA.” 
The event will also witness conferment of awards on eight eminent Nigerians who have distinguished themselves in various fields of human endeavours.
The Managing Director/Editor-In-Chief of Primetime Reporters, Mr. Saint Augustine Nwadinamuo, made this known in a statement made available to The Tide in Lagos on Monday.
According to him, the event will hold at the National Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Kofo Abayomi Street, Victoria Island, Lagos beginning from 10.00am.
Nwadinamuo said that the event would be chaired by a renowned legal practitioner, Barr. Osuala Emmanuel Nwagbara of the Maritime and Commercial Law Partners, Lagos, while the Director General, Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Dr. Muda Yusuf, would be the lead paper presenter.

By: Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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EFCC Nabs 419 Kingpin Over N250m Fraud

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has arrested a leader of a deadly 419 syndicate, Abayomi Kamaldeen Alaka (a.k.a Awise) over an alleged attempt to swindle an innocent Nigerian of N250 million. 
The Tide learnt that the syndicate operates from a shrine at Ashipa Town, near Abeokuta, Ogun State.
According to a statement made available to The Tide in Lagos on Sunday, by the EFCC, Awise’s arrest followed a petition by his victim, Juliet Bright who lost N250m to the fraudster after she was tricked to provide money for sacrifices and invocations to heal her of an ailment.
The statement said Bright was introduced to Alaka by one Akinola Bukola Augustina (a.ka. Iya Osun) whom she met on Facebook in the course of her search for solutions to her health challenge. 
What drew her to Augustina was the latter’s post under the name, Osunbukola Olamitutu Spriritual Healing Centre.
 Once Bright contacted Augustina, the latter promised to heal her if she could pay N16 million. 
The victim paid the money through an Access Bank account belonging to one Mohammed Sani, who later turned out to be a Bureau De Change Operator.
After paying the money without receiving healing, Augustina transferred the victim to other members of the syndicate, notably Awise. 
Bright revealed that she met Awise at his shrine in Ashipa Town and was hypnotized and subsequently transferred various sum through bank accounts and in cash to the suspect and his syndicate members, until she lost N250 million to them.
Despite all the monies collected from her, her health conditions has never improved.

By: Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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Expert Wants Farmers To Grow Plant Produce For Export

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An expert in Quarantine Agriculture, Dr Vincent Ozuru, has advised Nigerian farmers to give more attention to growing plants produce that could be exported.
He said that plant like the hibiscus, popularly known as Zobo is on high demand in some countries around the world, today.
Ozuru who gave the advice while speaking to aviation correspondents at Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, noted that some plants produce, particularly hibiscus, had yielded huge revenue to the Federal Government through export.
According to him, Nigeria exported about 1,983 containers of hibiscus to Mexico alone in 2017 and earned $35 million within nine months of that year.
The agricultural quarantine expert explained that the export of the plant had a setback as a result of storage pest discovered by the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service in some consignments.
“The issue has now been taken care of and the export is resuming again, and all matters have been resolved with the stakeholders across the value chain.
“Mexico is the largest importer of Nigerian hibiscus, and our farmers should brace up to the challenge.
“The good news is that Nigeria has a vast growing belt in hibiscus, and the harvest is available all year round.
“We need to take advantage of this opportunity to earn foreign exchange for ourselves and for the country at large, even with the commitment of the present administration to diversify the economy”, he said.
Ozuru called on Nigerian farmers to show more commitment to the growing of export produce and also endeavor to get ready information on it in order to increase their income.

By: Corlins Walter

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