Michael Omoregbee is an established entrepreneur in South-South Nigeria. While he was undergoing his NYSC Plateau State in the late 90s, he learned and honed the skill of teaching. Upon passing out from youth service and not being able to land a white-collar job, he shelved his certificate and set up a lecture center. A few years down that line, from 1994, the enterprise expanded into what is today know as Standard Organization, having two operational schools in Benin City of Edo State, along with 6 lecture centers, two mega-net cafés, and a medical laboratory. In 2017, Michael launched Eternal Water, a sachet water production factory. As CEO and sole financier, Omoregbee employs staffs to run his academic platforms, which currently numbers over 100 persons.
Michael’s narrative is in semblance to that of many young business owners in Nigeria. Having weathered storms, pulled through difficulties and standing time’s testing, they created jobs for themselves and became employers of labor.
Yesterday was World Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Day. 27th June of every year is set aside by the United Nations to mark the beauty and contributions of MSMEs worldwide. In a to-mark-the-day keynote address rendered by the Director-General of Small and Medium Enterprises of Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), Dr. Dikko Radda restated the mission of SMEDAN as an agency saddled with the mandate of the development and promotion of MSMEs in Nigeria.
The DG said that this year’s MSME occasion would be used in resetting the mindset of the youth towards entrepreneurship, given the present dual challenges of colossal youth unemployment and the un-employability confronting them. He reckoned that “The overarching objective of the occasion is to provide a platform and a unique opportunity for discussions on how to develop requisite entrepreneurial skills for employment generation and wealth creation among our youth.” In his words, Nigerian youth “Just have to be their own bosses by starting their own small businesses today.”
Continuing, Dikko said, “There is a growing recognition of the essential role that MSMEs play in the development of the economy. They play pivotal roles through several mediums that go beyond employment generation. They are a growth-supporting sector that doesn’t just contribute significantly to improve the standard of living, but also bring substantial local capital formation and are responsible for driving innovation and competition in developing economies”.
He added that “Government at all levels have undertaken initiatives to promote the growth and development of MSMEs.” MSMEs foster innovation, creativity and decent work for everyone. MSMEs, according to Radda, drive job growth, accounting for more than 90% of total employment in Nigeria.
A 2013 SMEDAN/NBS survey showed that the total number of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises as at 2013 stood at 37.07 Mn. Micro enterprises accounted for 36,994,578; small for 68.168 and medium for 4670. This is more than i0% of the total business enterprises in Nigeria, and they have been noted to provide about 84.02% of employment, 48.47% to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 7.27% to export.
MSMEs, therefore, have a vital role to play in stimulating economic development, generate employment and contributing to the alleviation of poverty, considering their economic weight. Prevailing challenges to the development of MSME in Nigeria are numerous. Some of the internal problems are poor entrepreneurial capacity of operators, aversion to joint ownership, weak financial management, non-recruitment of qualitative staff, poor record keeping, lack of standardization and low IVCT usage among a plethora of others. The external bottlenecks include poor infrastructure, constrained access to markets, impeded fund access and low standard of living.
In what was a move to address these problems, SMEDAN was established in 2003 to promote the development of structured, relevant and efficient Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) sector that will promote sustainable development in Nigeria.
Aligning with the theme Youth Dimension, this year’s World MSME Day directly contributes to achieving the SDGs and Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP). A significant number of the interventions of government centered on youth entrepreneurship are wired to curb youth unemployment.