As part of the commitment to promote sustainable and globally-competitive enterprises, the Lagos State Office of Sustainable Development Goals and Investment has organised a workshop to conduct the mapping and analysis of laws, policies and instructions for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) development and employment promotion in Lagos State.
The initiative, which is a collaborative effort with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), was designed to identify areas of policy deficiencies and encumbrances in the operation of MSMEs in Lagos State.
The Special Adviser to the Governor on Sustainable Development Goals and Investment, Mrs. Solape Hammond, disclosed that the potentials in the MSMEs sector in terms of wealth creation and employment generation are too attractive to be ignored by any discerning government.
She noted that it is imperative to harmonise policies towards encouraging the growth of local business in order to directly alleviate poverty by increasing income levels of small and medium traders, which will translate to the creation of more jobs.
Emphasising the importance of policies being well coordinated among the relevant government bodies and business support institutions to provide effective, timely and operational support to MSMEs, the Special Adviser added that equally central to the effort is the mechanism for easy access to information on relevant programmes and initiatives of the government that support the growth of MSMEs.
Hammond affirmed that the idea was to identify institutions responsible for relevant policies, harmonise their policies and galvanise them to have an intentional focus of addressing how to best equip the sector to survive and build future resilience.
“This administration has made access to finance seamless and equitable but the challenge is lack of information. This administration will intensify efforts to reduce the communication gap and increase awareness on the incentives available for business owners across the State”, she said.
While encouraging existing and prospective entrepreneurs to tap into the series of government empowerment programmes to support the growth of their enterprise, the Special Adviser revealed that over
N16 Billion available in the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) is yet to be fully utilised.
She declared that the exercise gives priority to MSMEs owned and managed by women, stating that increased access to finance and similar business incentives for women and economic growth has proven to be mutually inclusive.
“It has been identified that women-owned MSMEs are underserved segments of the sector. The support provided to women-owned businesses is usually hinged on the path to achieving a number of Sustainable Development Goals, including Gender Equality (SDG 5) and Decent Work and Economic Growth (SDG 8) as more interventions are provided to support the emergence of female entrepreneurs”, she revealed.
The Special Adviser also explained that the activities of MSMEs, who engage in the recycling of plastics will be a focal sector as the entire value chain of plastic recycling is to be examined with the possible outcome of improving prevailing practices and encouraging the adoption of ‘circular economy’ principles.
Hammond confirmed that the strategic contributions and recommendations from the various stakeholders, including experts and professionals on the report would be given optimum consideration to improve on the business environment in the State.
Reeling out some key objectives of the mapping exercise, the Lead Consultant, Lexworth Legal, Partners, Ms. Yetunde Olasope stated that the project, which is centred on the economic impact of MSMEs in general, is also examining other key indices such as the sustainability of the environment and gender inequality.
She submitted that report indicates that women account for 41% of the ownership of micro-businesses in Nigeria with 23 million female entrepreneurs operating in the business environment, adding that in the formal sector, the gender gap widens as fewer women are represented in corporate organisations and fewer female representation is seen in more organised business environments.
Highlighting some key findings in the recycling industry in Lagos State, Olasope pointed out that an estimated 96% of the waste produced in the State consists of plastic waste and the volume of waste is often unmatched by the effort to dispose of them properly, adding that the lifecycle of improperly disposed plastic ensures that unrecycled waste lingers around in the environment long enough to adversely affect the ecosystem.
The stakeholders at the workshop included relevant State and Federal Agencies, Stakeholders, Associations, the Bank of Agriculture, the National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises and the Standards Organisation of Nigeria, among others.