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Experts Seek Policies For MSMEs’ Dev

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Experts on Monday under scored the need for key policy recommendations for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) development to focus on areas of financing, capacity building and structure.
They gave the advice at a webinar organised by the Small and Medium Enterprise Group (SMEG) of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI).
The Tide’s source  reports that the theme of the event was: “Ensuring SME Growth in a Challenging Economy.”
The West Africa Tax Leader, Mr Yomi Olugbenro, stressed that these key areas would increase MSMEs’ contributions to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and spur economy stability and growth.
Olugbenro said a credible financial system enabled by technology was paramount for funding and operating efficient settlement systems for MSMEs survival in the near future.
He noted that in spite of the various global economic disruptions, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) were expected to survive if structural development could be established over time.
On structure, Olugbenro stressed the need for partnership with business consultants to provide SMEs with technical support and access to markets.
He also called for infrastructure-based policies that encompasses efficient power distribution to different industrial clusters.
“We must also build the capacity of entrepreneurs by providing capacity building support services focused on training entrepreneurs on relevant skills.
“The national education standards must be revamped to drive early exposure to entrepreneurship, and improve entrepreneurship education in state owned institution.
“SME loan portfolio must also be diversified following a gender and sector agnostic strategy,” he said.
In his contribution, the Director, Enterprise Development Centre,  Dr Peter Bamkole, said that a national survey during the COVID-19 pandemic revealed that 93 per cent of SMEs encountered several challenges which led to some businesses shutting down and downsizing.
He, however, noted that the seven per cent that thrived were businesses that were digitally enabled in their operations from raw materials sourcing to after sales services.
He stressed that henceforth, SMEs must be more collaborative among themselves, and reinvent their business models with operations carried out in a more efficient, innovative and creative manner for profitability.
“A significant number of those in the services sector should think of renewable energy to reduce cost of production.
“SMEs must add more value to their goods and services before exports, connect with SME across the continent to optimise the benefits of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA),” he said.
The President, LCCI, Dr Michael Olawale-Cole, said most recent conversations around the role, challenges, and growth opportunities for MSMEs underscored their importance as the engine for growth of any economy.
Olawale-Cole represented by Dr Chinyere Almona, the Director General, LCCI, noted that United Nations statistics revealed that MSMEs account for 90 per cent of businesses, 65 per cent of employment and 50 per cent of GDP worldwide.
He, however, posited that SMEs were now more than ever in need of support, as they navigate the impacts of the COVID pandemic, insecurity, supply chain disruptions, and the climate crisis.

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SMEs Seek Review Of Tax On Sweetened Drinks

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Immediate past President of the Nigeria Association of Small Scale Industrialists (NASSI), Segun Kuti-George, has urged the government to review tax on sweetened beverages to save jobs and prevent factories from closing.
Also, the Nigeria Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME)  warned that the tax could lead to job losses and shutdowns in their lines of operations.
Kuti-George noted that the decision of the Federal Government to impose the N10 per litre tax on carbonated drinks for manufacturers across board was not in the interests of small businesses which were already closing shops following a harsh operating economic environment.
“We are facing multi taxation from national to local government levels. Taxation is a terminator to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) survival,” Kuti said.
Commenting on tax on sugar sweetened drinks, Kuti maintained that though the tax was necessary to protect public health, taxing such drinks, however, has not reduced consumption of sweetened beverages produced by multinationals.
While big multinationals in sweetened beverages have passed the impact of the tax to consumers, he noted that it has been difficult for small scale operators.
“It is a significant burden asking small businesses to register with N2milion.Hosting a staff of customs, providing facilities for them and taking care of their daily expenses. Then we still have to pay N10 per litre per product”, he said.
He explained that it costs small business so much to register with Customs, provide an office for the Customs personnel attached to the business.
“These are burdens SMEs cannot survive with. We are not saying eradicate the tax completely. Government cannot ask Coco cola to pay N10 per litre and extend the same taxation to SMEs. We are microbusinesses”, he lamented.
According to him, “while the large-scale industries have been able to survive the consequences of the excise charge, MSMEs in the production of carbonated drinks are struggling to survive the current excise regime and the demands being levelled by the Nigeria Customs Service.
As soon as the government announced N10 tax per litre, Coca Cola’s Coke and Sprite went up from N150 to N200.But people are still buying the products. But people can afford to do without small drinks produced by SMEs”.
He appealed to relevant authorities to wade into the matter as it would ultimately occasion the demise of MSMEs which were in the production of sweetened drinks.
Sugar-sweetened beverages are a known contributor to several health issues, including poor diet quality, weight gain and diabetes. The World Health Organisation(WHO) recommended increased taxation as a cost-effective policy to regulate such drinks’ use and improve public health. However, the affordability of sugar-sweetened beverages has increased steadily despite their adverse health impacts.
The Federal Government commenced implementation of the N10 per litre tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) aimed at combating non-communicable diseases this year.

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Bank Gives N10m  Grant To 30 Corps Members

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Unity Bank Plc entrepreneurship development initiative, Corpreneurship Challenge, has doled out N10 million grant to 30 winners.
The grants were given at the ninth edition of the programme, targeted at empowering fresh graduates and corps members on one-year compulsory national youth service.
The winners emerged after a business pitch presentation held across 10 states – Rivers, Delta, Sokoto, Edo, Abuja, Akwa-Ibom, Osun, Kano, Bayelsa and Enugu – with each state producing three winners who went home with cash grant of N500,000, N300,000 and N200,000 each.
The winners focused on developing entrepreneurship in renewable energy, fashion, beauty, agro-processing and confectionaries
Some of the winners at the Rivers State NYSC Orientation camp at Nonwa Gbam, Tai, included Muoneke Gift, whose business plan was on renewable energy, took home the grand prize of N500, 000. Ilesanmi Olamide (with a business proposal on beauty services) claimed a N300,000 business grant for the first runner-up position.
Ekanem Moses Idoreyin’s confectionery business proposal won a N200,000 grant.
The winners emerged after their business plans were assessed by a panel looking out for business ideas that demonstrated originality, marketability, future employability potential of the product and knowledge of the business.
The Unity Bank Corpreneurship Challenge has gradually joined the league of some of the most impactful, youth-focused entrepreneurship development initiatives, which has empowered no fewer than 100 young entrepreneurs over the past three years.
Recently, one of the beneficiaries in Sokoto, Beulah Yusuf, who emerged as second runner-up in one of the editions successfully launched her recycling business with the grant received from the bank.
She unveiled her products widely acclaimed for addressing environmental pollution and waste management inefficiencies, underscoring the bank’s motivations to sustain the initiative
Speaking during the finale at Rivers State NYSC Orientation Camp recently, the Group Head, Retail, E-Business and SME Banking, Olufunwa Akinmade, said the bank was delighted with the impressive records the Corpreneurship Challenge has pulled so far.
“When we launched the initiative in 2019, we set out to empower the next generation of entrepreneurs that will disrupt the job market by creating much-needed jobs across all sectors.
Today, we have come a long way and the Corpreneurship Challenge has lived up to its billing,” he said.

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CBN Rules Out N5000 Note ….As SEC Sets To Fight Ponzi Scheme 

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) yesterday ruled out the introduction of N5000 note in the country.
CBN’s Director of Currency Operations, Ahmed Umar, made the clarification at a three-day workshop organised by the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) for members of the Financial Correspondents Association of Nigeria (FICAN) and Business Editors in Abuja.
He said this is against insinuation by the public that the apex bank would soon introduce the N5,000 notes into the financial system of the country.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari unveiled the new N200, N500, and N1000 notes in Abuja, recently.
Also, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has informed the investing public, Micro Medium and Small Enterprises  that it would continue to fight against Ponzi schemes in Nigeria.
SEC said it is set to use its enforcement procedures, including coordination with other relevant government agencies and stakeholders, to combat Ponzi scheme activities which has crumbled many businesses, especially the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
The Executive Commissioner Operations, Securities and Exchange Commission, Mr. Dayo Obisan, said this recently  at an Investor Education Programme for Federal Road Safety Corps workers in Abuja.
The Executive Commissioner Operations, who was represented by the Director, Market Development Department, Nestor Ikeagu, Obisan said the promoters of these unscrupulous schemes pose as operators in the capital market and other business setors to defraud investors of their money with mouth-watering promises of return on investments.
He warned the general public to be careful of the punzi scheme operators promises and think well before parting with their business money.

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