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BUSINESS & ECONOMY

SMEs Revolution Impacted By Intelligence, Finance And Policy

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Secretary-General of AfCFTA, Wamkele Mene

By Ebube George Ebisike*

Successful entrepreneurs know that the best way to predict the future is to create it. — Peter Drucker

 

The Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) is the first unit and/or building block of corporate innovation in any sector within any economic system. Like a cell which is the building block of living organisms, multiples of cells growing in unison become a body actively alive with diverse capabilities. SMEs are similar to cells given that they represent the growth potential of a micro entity under the right conditions.

SMEs are defined as enterprises that can range from Startups to thriving firms with less than 250 employees and an annual turnover of less than N500 million ($400,000). In Nigeria, SMEs are divided into micro, small, and medium enterprises based on their workforce and asset base.

Based on Bigdata there were at least, 39,654,385 micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) that operated in Nigeria as of December 2020 as against 41,543,028 million that were in existence in 2017, indicating a decrease of 4.5 %.

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In the last six years the decline of SMEs due to the economic downturn in Nigeria from COVID-19, internal government policies affecting ease of doing business, multiple taxation, and insecurity has led to vast unemployment and holistically a reduction in GDP.

In South Africa, SMEs generate about 34% of the country’s GDP and employ approximately 60% of its workforce – crucial for economic diversification to new markets. On a larger scale, these organisations are key drivers of business activity in Sub-Saharan Africa, making up 90% of businesses, 50% of GDP, and 80% of jobs.

To paint a clearer picture, Nigeria was home to over 36.9 million MSMEs, comprising 96.7% of all businesses in Nigeria. 67% of these businesses are youth-owned. MSMEs contribute over 45% to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), with 98.8% of them in the micro cadre. They account for nearly 90% of the jobs in the country but all these gains have been eroded.

It is key to note that based on International Labor Organisation (ILO) data 80% of businesses fail in the first 5 years. There are four types of SMEs, with the most common types of SMEs being sole proprietorships, then there are partnerships, limited liability companies (LLCs), and corporations. Sole proprietorships are defined as the simplest form of business organisation, and are typically owned and operated by a single individual.

In a survey once carried out India led with 63 million SMEs, though Indonesia is a close second with 62 million. However, when closely observed at the level of MSEs per 1,000 people, Indonesia and Nigeria were the top two, respectively.

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There are more micro-businesses than small ones in Nigeria and with a fledgling economy more downgrading of small businesses to micro has become the trend due to the impact of the petroleum subsidy removal on May 29th, 2022, inflation and loss of value to the naira have also taken a toll on SMEs.

Using data from the World Bank, SMEs account for 60% of jobs in Africa, yet they operate in a cash-based economy where digital payment options are becoming more adopted. The challenge for SMEs in Africa is that they face about US$330 billion in financing gap. Besides that the frequent bad ratings by the global Big Three rating agencies S&P 500, Moody, and Finch means Africa loses over $60 billion annually in finance which is required to upgrade her infrastructure and operating environment for SMEs to thrive.

Access to training, digital tools, the challenges in bridging R&D and industry, credit, and resources of the fourth industrial revolution upon us means African SMEs are encumbered to key into the evolving knowledge economy for greater survival, resilience, sustainability, and future competitiveness.

The sector with the highest concentration of SMEs in Nigeria is the Wholesale/Retail Trade, Agriculture, and other services activities that make up 76.3% of micro-enterprises.

The need for a holistic SME strategy in Africa is a silver bullet and the African Union (AU) Small, and Medium Enterprises Strategy (SME) and Strategy and Master Plan, provides guidelines for promoting intra-regional and intra-African trade by integrating African MSMEs into regional and global value chains, this is also enabled by the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).

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Following from the above analysis the birth of the Africa SME Assembly (ASMEA) in cooperation with the State of The African Diaspora (SOAD) and other partners is a stage to create the largest and most impactful gathering of SMEs in Africa. The event will also mark the inauguration of the African SME Council (ASMEC). The tireless advocacy by CSOs and industry pundits for SMEs, Afri-capitalism, and true economic emancipation is a deeply resonating factor with the core values and objectives of their initiative. The

Africa SME Assembly (ASMEA) organisers aim to empower the continent’s economy by strengthening, digitising, and accelerating the growth of the highly informal and hugely underserved SME ecosystem. The ASMEA team of radical visionaries is led by Treasure Enyinnaya David Cofounder & CEO, Innovative Village, Convener, ASMEA, also Monalisa Agbata – Regional Marketing Head, CoinW, Co-convener & Head Of Marketing Africa SME Assembly (ASMEA). Others are Abaz Ibekwe Cofounder, Techfield. Co-convener & the ASMEA Project lead, Dr. Eileen CO – Co-Founder; Africa Youth Diaspora Organisation (AYDO), Director of Strategic Partnerships, Pan African Chamber of Commerce; there is Tanya Kabuya Lead Facilitator, and Growth Marketing expert, WizzDigital; Lusimadio N Simao Central Africa Co-Director, AfCFTA

Youth Advisory member, Partner, ASMEA, and Mr. Jean Bosco Kalisa ED East Africa Business Council & Advisory Member, ASMEA. The theme of the maiden edition is “Unlocking the full potential of African SMEs” the event is a Conference, Trade Fair, Exhibition, Networking, and SME Awards billed for the 29th and 30th of March 2024 at the J.F. Ade. Ajayi Auditorium (Main Auditorium), Akoka, Yaba, Lagos, Nigeria with a heavyweight of industry professionals and experts to speak and educate on SMEs. The expected attendees are projected at 3000 physically seated and hundreds of thousands online.

The Africa SME Assembly (ASMEA) seeks to bring together key stakeholders, investors, policymakers, and SME futurism to rebuild, and renew the SME sector, fostering growth and creating an enabling ecosystem at a time when hyper stagflation plagues the Nigerian economy and now Africa needs to reinforce inter-continental trade. The core projections of the ASMEA are to build an influential network of African SMEs and stakeholders, from within and outside the continent to accelerate inclusive economic growth, to drive a conversation on innovation, and to foster the digital transformation of the African SME sector.

To promote intra-continental and global trade in Africa by advocating for the advancement of the intra-continental trade policy. Work towards bridging the gap between the operators of the SME (Small and Medium-sized Enterprises) ecosystem, Entrepreneurs, Investors, Financiers, policymakers, Ecosystem builders, and technology providers to foster a supportive environment for SME growth and sustainability and finally to execute the official launching of the Africa SME Council.

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The ASMEA conveners in their message and work seek to drive the AfCFTA agreement which was adopted and opened for signature on 21 March 2018 in Kigali and entered into force on 30 May 2019 to its most optimized state of operability and sustainability. As of August 2023, 47 of the 54 signatories (87%) have deposited their instruments of AfCFTA ratification (ordered by date).

Under the leadership of the Secretary-General of AfCFTA Wamkele Mene, African SMEs are expected to drive innovation, grow multibillion-dollar trade exchanges driven by digital payment systems indigenously developed, create sustainable jobs, foster trade with the coming of the BRICS bloc of countries, all whilst de-dollarisation of the African economy becomes paramount and the use a united African currency comes to birth in the future starting with regional legal tenders.

Today virtually over 650 million mobile users exist across Africa based on World Bank data with 226.84 million of them in Nigeria based on information from.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) released new industry statistics indicating a rise in mobile subscriptions by 4.61 million to hit 226.84 million in 2022. The mobile-enabled industrial revolution 4.0 for African SMEs is before us and must be taken advantage of. The need to grow SMEs or startups around the technology space is key to Africa, especially around Energy, Hardware, and Software. The growth of Fintech in Africa has been commendable thus far and more can be done.

To paint a picture of the experimental and revolutionary achievement in the energy sector by the technologist Maxwell Sangulani Chikumbutso of Zimbabwe who runs Saith Limited with his partners. He undertook the journey into harnessing radio waves/Microsonic energy through research and development. Little did he know after suffering threats, arrests imprisonment, and harassment he would astound the world, breaking the existing barriers in terms of what can be patented and the hurdles of free energy machinery development.

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Maxwell Chikumbutso’s work can power Africa’s infrastructural deficit and SME clusters into a $20 trillion economy in two decades or less, in other words overcoming Africa’s energy poverty. Microsonics offers the engineer and state a new way to control and manipulate energy. Among its virtues are miniaturization, reliability, and ease of device fabrication.

Such revolutionary technology work needs to be unconventionally funded by our indigenous intelligence agencies to ensure Africa achieves a leap in technology frontiers. There are many African SMEs in Africa with indigenous cutting-edge solutions to Africa’s development deficits that need to be given attention in terms of policy and investment. Many don’t know that Google and Facebook amongst other BigTech companies that were once SMEs or Startups were funded by the CIA through their venture capital arm InQtel.

The US Government, particularly the CIA invests in companies to keep the Central Intelligence Agency, and other intelligence agencies, equipped with the latest in information technology in support of United States intelligence capability. The name “In-Q-Tel” is an intentional reference to Q, the fictional inventor who supplies technology to James Bond. Africa needs its InQtels to unlock a new gap in talent, technology, and tenacity for positive change and this is what the Africa SME Assembly reverberates.

From access to world-class talent, venture capital funding, established tech giants, and a supportive environment, silicon Valley provided the ideal setting for entrepreneurs looking to launch their businesses quickly and successfully.

To shape the success we seek in the Africa SME ecosystem let’s look at Silicon Valley.  It used to be nicknamed the Valley of Heart’s Delight. The region covers some 100 km², and its main city is San Jose, which now has a population of close to 1 million people. While people trace the birth of Silicon Valley back to 1939, the term “Silicon Valley” was not used until 1971.

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It is key to note that Silicon Valley, which is larger both in geographic area and in population — has 9.6% of California’s jobs and 13.1% of the state’s gross domestic product, versus 4.1% and 5.9% in San Francisco, respectively, for instance. The similarities between SMEs and startups as they are more known today in the entrepreneurial revolution in America elucidate the power of SMEs.

The Africa SME Assembly in partnership with SOAD is a transformative platform that aims to empower SMEs, unite stakeholders, and drive the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across the continent. It is not just an event; it is a movement with a promise to deliver its weight in present and future dividends for the SMEs on their journey to becoming Chaebols and Zaibatsu of Africa.

  • Ebisike George is SOAD Minister of Trade

 

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BUSINESS & ECONOMY

Over 5,000 Benefit From Gov. Oborevwori’s ‘MORE Grant Scheme.’

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Delta State Governor Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori has launched the MORE Grant Scheme for petty traders, artisans, and female entrepreneurs with 5,426 people from the state’s poorest and most vulnerable households benefiting.

Governor Oborevwori spoke at the formal launch of the M.O.R.E Grant Scheme at Asaba’s Event Centre, describing the initiative as a comprehensive support system that would empower 5,426 Deltans, including 1,600 petty traders, 1,826 artisans, and 2000 female entrepreneurs across the state.

He described Delta State as being rich in talent and ambition and praised the artisans, traders, and entrepreneurs for being the unsung heroes of the state’s local economies.

He stated, “Your hard work, creativity, and perseverance are the driving forces behind the vitality and resilience of our local communities. As we recognise your invaluable contributions, I want to reiterate the state government’s commitment and willingness to support your efforts.

“The MORE Grant Scheme is a beacon of hope and a catalyst for positive change, as it provides critical resources to help you grow your businesses and improve your livelihoods.

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“To our petty traders from low-income and vulnerable households, despite the daily challenges of life, you have continued to work for a better future for your families and communities through your small businesses.”

“As a demonstration of faith, the MORE Grant Scheme will continue to provide you with the financial assistance you require to improve your businesses, as we remain committed to transforming small businesses into thriving enterprises, thereby improving our people’s quality of life and contributing to the state’s economic growth.”

He challenged artisans to use their skills, craftsmanship, and dedication to preserve the state’s cultural heritage and promote sustainable living.

The Governor went on to say, “The grant being given out today will help you acquire better tools, access quality materials, and reach wider markets, which will, in turn, propel our people’s rich traditions to new heights.

“To our female entrepreneurs, you represent strength and innovation. Despite facing numerous challenges with courage and determination, you have continued to break down barriers and establish new standards. I am very proud of you.

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“This grant programme is designed to provide you and other young women with the resources and mentorship they need to grow their businesses and inspire other women to follow in your footsteps.

“Your success is critical to our state’s progress, and we are committed to supporting your entrepreneurial journey every step of the way.”

Governor Oborevwori assured the beneficiaries that the state would provide workshops, training sessions, and mentorship programmes to help them gain the knowledge and skills required to succeed in today’s competitive market.

“We want to build a community of empowered individuals who collaborate, innovate, and support one another,” the governor stated.

In her welcome remarks, the Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs, Community Support Services, and Girl-Child Development, Orode Uduaghan, stated that the project was divided into three phases, each carefully designed to empower specific segments of the state and benefit over 5,000 people.

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Uduaghan revealed that the first phase of the project ‘targets the heartbeat’ of the state’s local economy, the petty traders, who, she claims, contribute immeasurably to the state’s tapestry of communities.

According to her, the state government’s MORE Grant Scheme aimed to revitalise their businesses, saying, “We are aware of how impactful even a small additional capital can be for these petty traders who work tirelessly to make a living.”

Weyinmi Eribo and Nneka Okekearu, the event’s keynote speakers, affirmed that human capital development was a platform for breaking the cycle of poverty and praised the governor for providing resources to grow small and medium-sized businesses.

They pledged to work with the state government through their agencies to mentor young entrepreneurs from the MORE grant scheme on how to grow their businesses into large-scale enterprises.

Some of the beneficiaries, including Mr Paul Onwochei (Delta North), Ogemuno Endurance (Delta Central), and Shodipe Gbubemi Sarah (Delta South), thanked Governor Oborevwori for providing funds to help them expand their businesses and urged him to continue the programme so that more Deltans could benefit.

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The symbolic presentation of cheques to some of the more than 5,000 beneficiaries was the event’s high point.

 

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BUSINESS & ECONOMY

How To Verify Certificate Of Occupancy In Lagos By Dennis Isong

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Lagos metropolise

In Lagos, Nigeria, a Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) is a crucial document for landowners. It proves legal ownership of land under the Land Use Act of 1978. With the rising cases of land fraud, verifying the authenticity of a C of O has become essential. Below is a comprehensive guide on how to verify a Certificate of Occupancy in Lagos.

Understanding Certificate of Occupancy

A Certificate of Occupancy is a legal document issued by the Lagos State Government to landowners and property buyers as a legitimate proof of ownership. This document specifies the rights of the individual or entity to the property and land.

Steps to Verify a Certificate of Occupancy

Step 1: Visit the Lagos State Lands Bureau

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Physical Verification: The first step in verifying a C of O is to visit the Lagos State Lands Bureau. This agency is responsible for land administration and registry in Lagos State. They have the complete database and records of all issued Certificates of Occupancy.

Step 2: Submit a Verification Request

Request Submission: At the Lands Bureau, submit a request for the verification of a C of O. You will be required to provide details such as the plot number, block number, survey plan number, and the C of O number. It’s essential to have all these details accurate to facilitate the verification process.

Step 3: Pay the Verification Fee

Payment of Fees: Verification of a C of O comes with a fee. Ensure you inquire about the current fee and make the payment accordingly. Receipt of payment will be required as part of the verification process.

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Step 4: Verification Process

Processing Time: After submission and payment, the Lands Bureau will conduct a thorough verification of the C of O against their records. This process may take some time, ranging from a few days to weeks, depending on the volume of requests being processed.

Step 5: Collect Verification Report

Collection of Report: Once the verification process is complete, you will be issued a verification report. This report will indicate the authenticity of the C of O. If the document is verified to be authentic, the report will serve as added proof of the legality of your property’s ownership.

Why Verify a Certificate of Occupancy?

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The importance of verifying a C of O cannot be overstated. Here are some reasons why it’s essential:

Prevents Fraud: Verification helps to prevent falling victim to land scams and purchasing properties with forged documents.

Confirms Authenticity: It assures the buyer or current owner of the land’s authenticity and legal standing.

Facilitates Transactions: A verified C of O is often required by financial institutions for loan approvals against land or property.

Common Certificate of Occupancy Frauds in Lagos

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While the Certificate of Occupancy is a critical document for property owners in Lagos, it is also a focal point for various fraudulent activities. Being aware of these common frauds can help property buyers and owners stay vigilant and protect their investments.

Forged Documents

Counterfeit C of O: There are instances where fraudsters create counterfeit Certificates of Occupancy. These documents may look remarkably similar to the original but lack the legal backing and verification from the Lagos State Lands Bureau.

Double Allocation Fraud

Multiple Owners: This occurs when a single plot of land is sold to multiple buyers, each provided with a seemingly legitimate C of O. This fraudulent practice not only leads to legal battles but also questions the authenticity of the C of O issued.

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Land Grabbing

Illegal Seizure: Land grabbers, also known as “Omo Onile” in local parlance, might forge a C of O to claim ownership of lands they do not legally own. They exploit unsuspecting buyers by selling these lands and providing fake certificates as proof of ownership.

Bribery and Corruption

Inside Job: Some fraudulent activities involve insiders within the land administration system. Unscrupulous officials might collude with fraudsters to issue or endorse fake Certificates of Occupancy for personal gain.

How to Protect Yourself from C of O Frauds

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To safeguard against these frauds, consider the following precautions:

Verify Before Purchase

Always verify the C of O through the Lagos State Lands Bureau before proceeding with any land purchase. This step cannot be overstated in its importance.

Legal Counsel

Engage a reputable legal practitioner or a property verification expert to conduct due diligence on the property and its documents.

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Research the Seller

Conduct thorough research on the seller or property developer. Check their reputation, past projects, and reviews from previous buyers.

Insist on Transparency

Demand transparency in every step of the buying process. Any reluctance to provide detailed information or rush the process should raise red flags.

Report Suspicious Activities

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If you encounter any suspicious activities or individuals during your property transaction, report them to the authorities. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Special Fraud Unit (SFU) of the Nigeria Police are competent authorities to handle such cases.

I hope you learned something new. Kindly scroll down to save my number and send a message.

*Isong is a TOP REALTOR IN LAGOS. He Helps Nigerians in the Diaspora to Own Property In Lagos Nigeria STRESS-FREE. For Questions WhatsApp/Call 2348164741041

 

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BUSINESS & ECONOMY

‘The Financial Times’ Ranks Moniepoint As Africa’s Fastest-Growing Financial Institution

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*Tosin

The Financial Times, one of the world’s leading business news organisations, has ranked Moniepoint Inc, the parent company of Nigeria’s leading financial institutions, Moniepoint MFB and TeamApt Ltd, as Africa’s fastest-growing financial institution.

The world’s leading financial publication confirmed Moniepoint Inc’s recognition in its annual “Africa’s Fastest Growing Companies” survey, which was released today. Moniepoint has achieved the fastest-growing fintech milestone for the second year in a row, and it is also one of Africa’s top four fastest-growing companies overall.

Statista, a leading research firm known for its insight into African companies’ actual performance, conducted the survey following a rigorous screening process. Companies are ranked in this survey based on their absolute revenue growth rate and compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for the years 2019-2022.Moniepoint’s growth rates of 7,979% (absolute) and 332% (CAGR) put it ahead of hundreds of leading companies in a variety of industries, including technology, telecoms, financial services, and healthcare.

Moniepoint Inc has long been one of Africa’s largest business payment platforms, processing more than $182 billion for customers in 2023. It should be noted that in August 2023, Moniepoint MFB entered the personal banking market, providing dependable banking services to millions of people across Nigeria. The holding company’s global headcount has also doubled, reaching over 1,800 by the end of 2023.

This recognition highlights Moniepoint’s success as Africa’s leading fintech, driving financial inclusion by enabling underserved businesses and individuals to access the formal financial system, thereby contributing to the Nigerian government’s key goal.

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Tosin Eniolorunda, CEO of Moniepoint Inc., stated:

“For the second year in a row, the Financial Times has named us Africa’s fastest growing fintech company. Achieving rapid growth and scale is an outstanding achievement; maintaining it year after year is even better. The ranking reflects the dedication and hard work of the entire Moniepoint team, as well as the trust placed in the company by millions of African customers.

“Moniepoint experienced a pivotal year in 2023. Moniepoint has transitioned from being an agency-dominated institution to one that is dominated by merchants as more people adopt digital payment solutions. It is humbling to see how we have become a household name that people know and trust, the go-to for dependable transactions every time.

With our entry into the personal banking market, we have been able to provide seamless and dependable payment solutions to Nigerians, particularly those in underserved communities, as we continue to expand access to financial services and contribute to economic growth and wealth creation. 2024 promises to be even more exciting, with continued growth, driving compliance and innovation, as we maintain our leadership position in the African fintech sector, driving financial inclusion throughout Africa.”

According to David Pilling, FT Africa’s editor,

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“The third year of our expanded ranking of Africa’s Fastest Growing Companies comes as many economies struggle to recover from the Covid pandemic. The FT-Statista list identifies companies that have grown despite adversity, often by disrupting markets…This year’s ranking includes a broader geographical spread of companies than previously. Morocco is the big newcomer, with 12 companies in the top 125, up from three the previous time. Mauritian-domiciled companies also performed well, with nine winners compared to four in 2022. South Africa led the list with 42 companies, Nigeria followed with 25, and Kenya tied for third with 12.

Moniepoint Inc.’s technology supports over five million businesses and their customers, providing all of the payment, banking, credit, and business management tools they require to succeed. Moniepoint has established itself as a market leader in Nigeria across a variety of segments, including commerce, health, and hospitality, among many others. Its transformational and positive strides have earned it local and international recognition.

CB Insights named Moniepoint Inc to its list of the 100 most promising private fintech companies for the second year in a row in 2023. Moniepoint MFB received the Rising Star Family Business Award at the PwC/Businessday Family Business Summit and the Fintech Company of the Year award at the 16th Annual Leadership Newspapers Conference and Awards.

According to industry analysts, Moniepoint Inc is well-positioned to continue delivering innovative solutions that promote inclusivity, drive sustainability, and open up new vistas in the markets in which it operates.

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