Stakeholders at the 11th edition of the annual banking and finance conference organized by the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, are calling for concerted efforts to build strategic clusters for SMEs in the country.
This was part of the main resolution of the business session 3 of the conference, which discussed “Harnessing the Value Adding Potentials at MSME in Income and Empowerment Generation”.
Chaired by the Managing Director of National Deposit Insurance Corporation, NDIC Alhaji Umar Ibrahim, it had a guest speaker Mrs Ibukun Awosika the Chairman of First Bank of Nigeria and seasoned panelists.
Mrs Awosika who was unavoidably absent due to earlier commitments gave a video presentation, where she made a strong case for SME clusters in the country.
According to her there must be deliberate structures in place to drive the entire value chain for SMEs in the country.
“We have opportunities to build SME clusters in Industries like fashion and entertainment which both have a huge value chain, to generate massive employment” she said.
Awosika stressed that from the financial services to the business registration process and down to infrastructure, the structures must be supported to enable their growth and development.
Giving his remarks the Director-General of the Small Medium Enterprise Development Agency of Nigeria, SMEDAN Dr Umaru Dikko Radda shared that Nigeria has 37 million MSMEs that are macro-based and account for 84% of the employment in Nigeria.
Speaking further he said SMEDAN remained focused on providing business development support for MSMEs and was working with micro-finance banks, to expand the “One Local Government One Product” initiative across the nation.
Mrs Ndidi Nwuneli the CEO of AACE Foods in her intervention harped on the need for collective efforts amongst the banks in achieving MSME development.
On his part Mr Emmanuel Ijewere, CEO Best Foods Limited appealed to the banking and finance community, to support the agric sector which provides immense opportunities to boost the economy.
Hon. Mohammed Abubakar Chairman, UMZA International Farms Limited, which has one of the largest rice mills in Africa believed policy sustainability was vital to enterprise development.
He said the processing segment in the Agric sector was a great opportunity for investments, while he believed the Bank of Agriculture must be reformed to allow the commercial banks, to have major controlling shares.
The business session 3 was the first of the final day of the 11th CIBN annual banking and finance conference.
Mrs Bashirat Odunewu represented the Chairman of First Bank at the event.