Through Merit Ibe
Stakeholders urged micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to embrace the use of technology as a lifeline for communications, logistics or online marketing into the new normal.
They made their views known at the ongoing trade fair organized by the National Association of Small Industrialists (NASSI) in collaboration with the Lagos State Government.
Commissioner for Trade, Industry and cooperatives, Lola Akande, noted that the theme of the fair “The role of technology in the success of MSMEs in the new normal” was appropriate, adding that it was a pointer to technological opportunities that help SMEs in terms of investments and business operations.
Akande stressed that since technological tools are essential for doing business in the post COVID-19 normal, SMEs must adapt to the new normal, urging government at all levels to help small businesses mitigate the negative effects effect of the pandemic and empower them to adapt to the new normal.
She revealed that in achieving their goals, the administration of Governor Babatunde Sanwo-Olu will continue to provide strong platforms like this fair for MSMEs, to enable entrepreneurs get valuable traction that is essential for business development.
In addition to providing market access platforms and the appropriate policy framework for an enabling business environment, she noted that the administration also provides physical infrastructure.
For his part, NASSI President Solomon Vongfa, believe that technology is a major lever for deepening the resilience of MSMEs.
“All the activities of our national life have gone digital, which makes doing business easier.
“As the umbrella organization of small businesses, we must do everything possible to educate our employees so that their products can reach a wider population. We also want to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCFTA). Government must encourage SMEs, to reduce the burden of governance.
Give him the reason for the theme, NASSI Lagos President Gertrude Akhimien said: “We chose the theme because we are in a new normal. This is what locking over a year made us. The movement of goods has become so difficult, but today technology has improved. We want to make sure that we are producing more with fewer jobs. This is why technology is essential for access our market with modern technology.
“Technology will increase gross domestic product when we improve products, who will make us export ready for AFCFTA. With technology, we can produce more for the country, Africa and even the international community. The government should view the sector as the engine of the global economy.
“Most of the products here are ready for export, the government needs to scale them up, giving SMEs access to funds, mentoring and partner them with larger companies so that they can improve the quality and quantity of their products. With better products, they can be connected to the export market so that Nigeria can benefit. This will increase the forex, and employability which will improve the economy and increase GDP.
For the growth of the MSME sector to be sustainable, Akhimien insisted that industries must be protected from multiple taxes and that there should be a strategy policy to facilitate business. She also begged the government to consider granting a tax holiday of a few years to startups that have received loans and grants to develop their business.
The Managing Director of the Center for the Promotion of Private Enterprise (CPPE), Dr Muda Yusuf, explained that with technology, SMEs have the advantage of close customer engagement, creation of niche services, products and a strong brand identity, which greatly expands the reach of marketing.
He said marketing is the backbone of any business, adding that the essence of production is delivering value to customers.
“This would only happen if companies could reach their customers at the right time, in the right place and in the right form. Digital marketing is one of the biggest transformations that technology has brought to the business space, especially for small businesses. It has dramatically expanded the reach and ability of SMEs to reach their customers, not only within the country, but even outside the country. It has significantly reduced marketing costs, especially compared to traditional marketing platforms like TV, radio, billboards, newspaper ads, etc.