Investment in infrastructure such as roads, transportation, alternative power generation and security have been identified as policy strands that will be implemented over the next four years as the Lagos State Government looks to grow the State’s economy.
Speaking at the Fidelity SMEs Funding Connect-Lagos held in Lagos, the Deputy Governor, Dr. Kadri Obafemi Hamzat explained that the present administration’s Development Agenda tagged T.H.E.M.E.S target SMEs because its unique position to create jobs and support growing the economy.
He declared “…we will create a vibrant environment for SMEs to carry out their business and impact the people”. We are also ready to partner with relevant stakeholders particularly the private sector, financial institutions and individuals to empower, support and strengthen the SMEs to transform the economy of the State”.
Hamzat also stated that the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund in the last four years gave loans to 10,656 SMEs and has recorded an 89% loan repayment which has culminated in 95,525 new jobs creation.
While also promising action in the areas of challenges, the Deputy Governor declared “we are also aware of many challenges, which include infrastructure deficit, frequent public policy somersaults, and over regulations among others.
Acknowledging the role SMEs have played overtime, Dr. Hamzat explained that the State Government will leverage on their abilities in employment generation, poverty alleviation and revenue generation.
He states “globally, SMEs or entrepreneurs are the engines of socio-economic transformation including industrialization. They provide a vital platform to enhance technological and entrepreneurial capacity amongst various segments of the people. Large numbers of people rely on small and medium enterprises directly and indirectly. They play a big role with their contribution in labor absorption, poverty alleviation and revenue generation. The critical importance of this sector warrants much more attention by all the stakeholders.”
He therefore commended the Fidelity Bank for providing platform for engagement describing their efforts as being in alignment with the vision of the State Government.
Earlier in his opening remarks, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Fidelity Bank, Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo noted that in spite of the huge potentials of MSMEs to create employment opportunities for the country’s youth population, they remain largely bedeviled by a number of problems with limited financing option being one of the main drawbacks they face.
He therefore, stated that the essence of the SME funding Connect-Lagos initiative is to bring funds providers together with those who need the funding and as well encourage entrepreneurs to aspire to get funding through a structure means.
He disclosed that apart from Lagos, the Regional SME Conferences will also hold in Port-Harcourt, Ibadan, Aba and Kano in the course of the year and at a designated time in Year 2020. Mr. Okonkwo emphasized that the Bank hope to use the platform provided by the events to connect existing businesses with local and international fund providers, thus drawing widespread attention to the plight of MSMEs in Nigeria.