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SMEs Divided Over Covid-19 Survival Strategies

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Since the tragedy called, Coronavirus hit Nigeria, no sector has remained the same, as it has become a struggle to survive. 
The business sector is not left out. International, national, small and medium businesses suffered setbacks as many exited the business scene due to frustration. However, many Small and Medium Enterprises(SMEs) have managed to stay afloat despite the heat .
The Tide went to town to sample the opinions of some business peronalitiies in Port Harcourt. Excerpts:

Mr Nelson Nwankwo: To the Managing Director (MD), De Lord’s Giver Fashion,  Mr Nelson Nwankwo, surviving during setbacks in business depends on the knowledge of the entrepreneur about the business.
Nwankwo said, “every business has a secret and it is this secret that one can fall back on in time of crisis and hardship.
“Why do you think people go for apprentice ship for years. It is simply to learn the business secrets which serve as backbone to the business man or woman”.
The MD, who deals on men’s wears and boxes said, “savings is another business secret which many are not disciplined enough to abide with. You do not need to spend all your money because hard times exist in business life which savings bails out.
“These are survival strategies in addition to customer relationship. Because of Civid-19, many people don’t buy clothes as much as they did before but with good customer relationship, they must remember me whenever they must buy.
Wealthy customers can also help out in terms of giving loan to sustain a business in time of need”.
On the duties of government in helping SMEs survive Covid-19 era, he argued that it was not the duty of government to give loans to SMEs but to instruct banks to reduce their interest rates.
“What government should also do is to harmonise and reduce taxation in addition to building shopping malls at give away prices”, he said.

Eunice Okon: In her opinion, the Manager of All Purpose Shop at Peter Odili Road, Eunice Okon, blamed government for not creating enough jobs.
The manager said the unemployment in the society was responsible for lack of money in circulation
“It is the duty of government to make money available to sponsor good business ideas and projects to address the effect of Covid on the businesses and economy.
Okonkwo who is a micro biology graduate said, “if government makes loans available, more businesses will be opened to reduce unemployment and hunger.
“I graduated from university and there was no job. I could not sit down to wait for employment, so l started this business. Today l have other branches”.
She however, noted that the level of sales has reduced due to Covid-19’s divastating effect on people’s purchasing power and businesses.
Okon warned business owners to cut down on their spending  in order to stay afloat in this Covid-19 era.

Chinyere Dennis:The Manager of Chinnis And Sons Enterprises, Mrs Chinyere Dennis, in her opinion said, it was the duty of government to finance businesses with loans and grants due to the high cost of raw materials.
Mrs Dennis who produces disinfectants and cosmetics noted that “government needed to assist even dead businesses because Covid-19 affected so many SMEs.
“You can see that the close down of many companies has resulted in poverty and serious unemployment, ravaging the state/nation. This is directly or indirectly affecting the record of leaders.
The manager reiterated that the production of more disinfectants would go a long way in fighting and reducing Covid-19, saying,” without it obedience to the Covid protocol would be zero.
“The progress of our business is useful in fighting Covid-19 and without it Covid would keep spreading, which will result in increased death toll”.
She expressed worry that even the heavily announced loans and grants hardly got to the people it was meant for, because nobody cares to monitor where it entered.
On business setbacks due to Covid effect, she said she did not even meet up demands, “everybody must use soap, hand sanitizer and other disinfectants”.
The manager, who has a degree in education, advised business owners to strive to stay afloat, no matter what happened, saying that there are different institutions that give loans to SMEs.

By: Lilian Peters

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PH To Host SME Ankara Carnival, Trade Exhibition

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Port Harcourt would next month play host to traditional fashion carnival/ trade exhibition.
The programme according to the organisers is aimed at prompting the business and rich cultural heritage of Nigerian traditional Ankara material.
Speaking in a telephone interview with The Tide, the programme Director of “PH Ankara Carnival”, Dr. Larry Goodwill Ajiola, said that Entrepreneurs in the fashion/designing industry would have the opportunity to showcase their talents.
Dr. Ajiola who is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of I.Conntact Connect Communications, Port Harcourt, said, “there will be Ankara trade exhibition, sales of both sewed and materials, in addition to the presence of manufacturers and distributors of Ankara materials.
“The event is meant to reach out to young and creative fashion/designers and models in the industry.
“It is a creativity carnival birth with passion driven vision which tends to influence and change the minds of young individuals about the Ankara clothings. The event would promote young entrepreneurs in the fashion industry”.
Dr. Larry who is also the Chairman of IEBS Matrixx co-operative, Port Harcourt noted that the theme of the event, “The unending Heritage in Africa Traditional Dressing”, has a lot to say about the sustenance of African culture.
He reiterated the need for Mass turn out for the October 10th programme, stressing that Ankara would be sold at an affordable price by the Manufacturers and distributors.

By: Lilian Peters

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108 Ogoni Youths To Enjoy Entrepreneurial Training Abroad

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The Ogoni Liberation Initiative says it has concluded arrangement to train 108 Ogoni youths in various businesses and skills development abroad.
The President of the organisation Mr. Richard Douglas Fabeke who said this during the unveiling of a magazine in Port Harcourt, also hinted of the plan by the group for the establishment of a hitech polytechnic in Ogoni land.
Fabeke said the polytechnic which will be the first of its kind in the country will enable students to develop enterprenural skills.
According to him, the organisation has also acquired land for a university, adding that
Ogoni liberation initiative is not political but would focused on the development of Ogoni land.
Fabeke also warned the people against involving in violence, stressing that time has come for the people to focus on making Ogoni the industrial hub of Nigeria and the entire west Africa.
He also criticised the federal government amnesty programme, saying that the programme has not improved the life of any Ogoni youths.
 He said this is the time for the Ogoni to free themselves from economic slavery by tapping into programmes that will improve their lives.
Fabeke also said that Ogoni liberation initiative is registered in four countries adding that the organization is working with international media to spread the cause of the Ogonis across the world.
He said that Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) is the preferred company for the Ogonis.
Fabeke said the magazine will enable members of the international communities to know the true situation of things in Ogoni Land, adding that one million jobs will be created through the magazine.

By: Oribim Ibama & Inimgba Victor

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NIRSAL Trains 700,000 Farmers, Others On Agribusiness

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The Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL Plc) has trained 700, 000 farmers and other agricultural value chain actors across the country, in its ongoing efforts to improve the capacity and productivity of Nigerian farmers.
“Since its inception, NIRSAL Plc has provided training on Good Agronomic Practices to over 700,000 farmers and trained over 2,600 mid-management and Agric desk officers of commercial banks,” the organization, disclosed in a statement, yesterday.
It said that it has just concluded a series of training sessions under the NIRSAL Strategic Business Support Services (SBSS) which were held in the six geo-political zones .
The agency described the programme as a continuation of efforts targeted at achieving a key component of NIRSAL PLc’s mandate: de-risking of the agricultural value chain in order to encourage more investment in agribusiness by the financial sector,
It addressed NIRSAL’s Technical Assistance pillar which aimed at building the capacity of value chain actors for improved production, handling, processing and marketing of agricultural commodities.
The sessions focused on 10 Commodities of Interest (COI) that have ecological and economic advantages in each region.
The commodities were: Rice, Ginger, Maize, Fresh Fruit & Vegetables (FFV), Cassava, Beans, Aquaculture, Oil Palm, Livestock and Cotton.
According to the organization, the choice of the selected commodities was informed by the NIRSAL Agricultural Commodity Ecological Area (ACEA) map which it developed and obtained validation for from relevant research institutes. NIRSAL Plc believes that ACEA-compliant agricultural investments hold the highest chances for success in terms of production and sale.
In the North-Central, the Benue State SBSS focused on Rice, Ginger and Maize, which are NIRSAL COIs that possess the highest factor productivity in the state.
“Consequently, in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), the SBSS trained operators in the FFV Value Chain. The rationale for selecting FFV is hinged on the FCT’s urban consumer market. The training sessions took place in Kuje, Nyanya, Mararaba, Apo, Lugbe, the Municipal, Gwagwalada, Dei-Dei, and Abaji.
“In the South-South, the Rivers State SBSS focused on FFVs as well, in addition to Aquaculture. Stakeholders were trained in Rumuola, Wenpey, Aluu, Enekah, Elekahia, Eleme, Mgbuoba, Elelenwo, Igwuruta, Eliozu, and Rumuodomaya.

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