Report By: Anderson Tosin
In an Exclusive Interview with the Chairman of Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises NASME Lagos State Chapter, Solomon Adewunmi Aderoju.
A.T: When did the association started and what does it entails?
NASME:”Well, the association is a arm of NASME nationwide, registered in 1996 as foremost business management organization protecting the interest of business people generally like formers, food processors, agriculturer, services etc. the Lagos state chapter was founded 2000, 4yrs after the main body was established. it happen to be the most active and recognized chapter today. NASME is represented in 31 states of Nigeria with over 400 members as of today”
A.T: what are the advantages for the new business entrepreneur that is planning to join?
NASME: ” Yes, we call it vocal point (Area of business) which are;
- Capacity building (training on various aspect needed to enhance business) we do train ourselves from time to time.
- Accessibility to finance (either through NASME/NASME COOPERATIVE Society/Lagos State Employment Trust Fund, BOA,BOI etc.) we also have some Banks that are working very closely with us and ready to provide fund for our members.
- Access to technology (for members that are into production) they give them technology to drive their production as we have an MOU with FIIRO.
- Access to market, when there is a problem when you produce and you cant sell your products, we provide market for our members both in house and out there.
“There is a program called “Round Table” It is for exhibition of products by members . it always happen ones in a year.
Advocacy is very important due to tax or CAC RETURNS issues. In 2006 Dec. to Jan. 2017 we had to champion the course of our members who had access tax liability by helping to reduce as low to 25% of the tax liability and the fight is still on.
Networking is also part of the advantages because by joining the chapter, outsider tends to know you more.”
A.T: Is there any other way members can have access to fund apart from those mentioned earlier?
NASME: “There is a cooperative for every member that is joining the chapter which the cooperative is an entity itself and an amount of #50,000 must be paid according to the cooperative act then monthly payment need to be made as contribution and when you request for loan, twice of what the member have has his/her contribution will be given as loan to the member. Also, commercial banks helps in given loan where normal terms and conditions are applied.”
A.T: What are the challenges facing the SME’s in Nigeria?
NASME: “There are a lot both internal and external challenges. Let me talk on the external challenges.
External challenges can only be manage not avoided. Which are;
- Infrastructural deficiency, the infrastructure is lacking in this country
- lack of finance, the Government are not ready to finance us or to encourage financing. Because all those (financing)windows that i have explained, the interest rate is so high, if only the Federal Government can follow the trend of Lagos State so that SME’s can borrow money at a lower interest rate. There is no SME that can thrive if the interest rate is more than 10-12% but what we found out today Commercial Banks charges as high as 25-30%, Micro finance charge average of 5% per months which is 60% per year.
- The high level of corruption especially the police on the road who always disturb people who are bringing their goods from one part of the country to the other, they can delay the vehicle for no reasons.
- Lack of power supply for people to operates
- Bad roads etc.
“Also Marketing is very key because some of our members don’t know how to sell their products, if government can have something like off taking, like in those days we have commodities boards whereby Government can buy all the products, warehouse it, pay the farmers direct, the farmers go back to his/her farm and then the government will sell it. That’s what most of the countries are doing, Malaysia is doing the same thing, Singapore, China they are also doing it. They will buy directly from Farmers, pay the farmers and start planting again.
Like Lagos state can also do export directly, all agencies in Lagos states are working.
We also have internal which is paramount to the SME’s themselves, some of our members are not well trained, they don’t have capacity building, financial transactions record, they lack information and quality as some of their product are not up to standard. All these are what we are addressing and we will overcome it.”
A.T: What did NASME has in pipeline at the moment and upcoming events?
NASME: “July of every year the “Round Table” do comes up and also series of capacity programmed for our members. Also we are working with the Lagos state government whereby we can have land where we can build clusters because some of our members don’t have where they can operates but if government can give us land , we can have everyone i.e. Taylor, food processors, etc together at a place, they will be able to share resources, marketing, they will be able to do the quality assessment together in a place. Banks and financials can meet them at the same time together which they will also have similar characteristics.”
A.T: On Unemployment is it Individual or the Government are fully to blame for unemployment in the country when there is actually various avenue of SME’s and most especially our youths can venture into?
NASME: “My own analysis is that everybody should be involved both the government and individuals. There has been a lot of graduate that has been coming looking for employment/job. Like someone who read food technology met me, i had to encourage her that she can make something out of it. There is a lot of opportunity waiting to be grabbed, everyone is looking for a paid job not thinking on how they can establish themselves and be a business owner. Although, i don’t blame most of them due to the challenges that will be faced when moving into been an entrepreneurial. For example; looking at the regulatory body in the country we have NAFDAC, SON etc, doing almost the same work and if an entrepreneur had to go through to register he/she has to go from one to another which is stressful. Let everybody think out of the box, one member in NASME is making “chin-chin” and today the product is been exported out of the country, unfortunately many young ones don’t have the vision.”
A.T: On Final note to the general public.
NASME: “How to diversify the economy through SME’s is what we’ll be discuss at the program this July. We want people to grab opportunities because we all involve in risk and its better to involve in a risk that will produce better result than letting risk eloping you without good result. NASME is there to help any Newbie Entrepreneur. My advice to the youth is that they should take the opportunity of taking up one or two things than waiting for that employment space you are not aware of when it will be available. Let us come together to checkmate unemployment”.
Get real time update about this post categories directly on your device, subscribe now.