Entrepreneurs under the auspice of Association of Micro Entrepreneurs of Nigeria (AMEN) has called on the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency make access to funding easy in order to save the future of Small and Medium scale Enterprises (SMEs) in the country.
National President of AMEN, Comrade Prince Saviour Iche during his One-man protest on the challenges and sufferings of small businesses in Nigeria, at the Lagos edition of the national Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Clinic, tagged “ Diversifying the Nigerian Economy by Strengthening MSMEs”, also said the federal government should look into the activities of Bank of Industry (BoI).
He said there is need for upgrade government agencies in charge of loan disbursement to small business owners, adding that most of them are not representing the government well.
Speaking on the plight of SMEs in Nigeria, he recalled that last year alone, about 28 AMEN members closed down their factories because of harsh business environment and they have employees under them.
“The government should look into the the activities of agencies like BoI, they are the ones giving the Federal Government bad names,if really they are working, the effects would be seen on small businesses in Nigeria.
“I don’t really know what they mean by MSME clinic, to me, SMEs are not sick, it is someone that is sick that goes clinic. We are not sick and don’t need medications, the only people that I know that are sick are the agencies that overseas the affairs of SMEs in Nigeria.
“I say that because they are not functioning, they are just existing but not productive, most of the loans are given on pages of the newspapers. As the president of an association, if these loans are been given, I will know because I have members across the country and am also an entrepreneur. If somebody like me have not gotten, you can imagine the situation. It is time for us to tell ourselves the truth. BoI is not working, they are working for their personal interest.
“The condition for accessing the funds is another challenge to the growth of micro entrepreneurs in Nigeria,” he said.
He also stressed the need for the government to make access to funding easy, adding that it shouldn’t take millions of years to access fund, saying that the issue of 10 per cent upfront payment should be abolished.
Another entrepreneur, Mr. Kunle Ani, lamented the plight of SMEs in Nigeria noted that genuine manufacturers were deprived of the loan facilities.
Ani, who is into cosmetics production, said entrepreneurs are grateful to the government for giving out loans but said the loans are politicized.
According to him, apart from the loans, the regulatory bodies pose a lot of challenges to entrepreneurs because of their requirements, adding: “if you don’t have the capacity to do that, you may not succeed in business”.
Giving his personal experience, he said: “I once approached BoI and I was told that interest rate is four per cent, if you are giving somebody loan and it is four per cent interest rate, I expect it would be four per cent on a yearly basis, not on monthly basis. And if you give somebody a loan, there should be a moratorium, a period the beneficiary of that loan will turn it around, make use of the loan before paying. But now, you take a loan this month, by the following month, you start paying, ending up in debt without achieving anything.
“There should be collaboration between the Federal and state governments; we have so many agencies, yet they cannot come to the aid of the entrepreneurs. There should be an agency that should be providing advisory roles to entrepreneurs but you discover that these agencies are just there, organizing trainings without effective monitoring of the SMEs. There is need to bring down the cost of registration, the agencies should be advisory to the SMEs.
“I the actual sense of it, it is the private enterprise that generate jobs and there must be an enabling environment”, he said.
For a better society