BoI, stakeholders seek improved support services to drive growth
If the potential of Nigeria’s youth population is properly harnessed for productivity in the nation’s agribusiness, extractive industries and manufacturing sectors, the sectors can aid the realisation of the nation’s projected growth by 2020, latest Forbes report on entrepreneurship has shown.
Affirming the viability of the sectors as Nigeria’s next growth drivers, stakeholders at the National summit on entrepreneurship and innovation, including the Bank of Industry (BoI), the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investments, the African Centre for Business Development among others, noted that the sectors need to be stimulated in the right direction for effective results.
Presenting the report, Convener of the summit, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa stated that while entrepreneurship may have been identified as solution to Nigeria’s economic challenges, especially in the area of wealth and job creation, identifying sectors for investment is imperative for growth.
According to him, with agribusiness, natural resources, technology/telecommunications and manufacturing sectors identified as growth drivers within the next five years, there is need for government to create a conducive ecosystem for the survival of enterprises.
Managing Director of the Bank of Industry, Rasheed Olaoluwa while advocating promotion of value-addition explained that in the 17th Century, Alexander Hamilton, treasury secretary of the United States of America, proposed value addition and industrialisation to the then president of the country, stressing that it was such an idea that transformed the US.
Olaoluwa wondered why Nigeria would continue to export cocoa beans which could only guarantee 20 per cent of the value of chocolates, stressing that Malaysia could today boast of $40 billion earnings from its exports owing to the fact that most of the goods leaving the country had some measure of value addition.
He said it was important to transit from colonial economy to industrial economy, adding that Nigeria should not be crawling 55 years after Independence.
He said his experience as a lender had shown him that it was wrong for entrepreneurs to go into enterprises without knowing who would buy from them.
“If you do not care about the buyers, then you will end up producing what nobody will buy. Entrepreneurship is not a part-time job. When I receive proposals, I tell them that as long as this person will not be there full time, I will not approve the proposal,” he said.
He encouraged entrepreneurs to submit proposals to BoI, assuring that the bank would consider and process ones that meet the expected standards.
He further said that the bank, understanding that SMEs are not one-size-fits-all, has identified 35 clusters, with the aim of looking at each sector individually and differently.
“We are looking at each cluster, looking at the dynamics of each so as to tailor our support to the needs of every one of them,” he added.
He said after the training of 1000 successful applicants in the Graduate Entrepreneurship Fund (GEF) scheme, the bank saw great ideas of young Nigerians, stressing that it was an indication that the young people were ready to become the next generation of entrepreneurs.