We must organise Nigeria's disorganised SME market for prosperity — Tinubu 

We must organise Nigeria’s disorganised SME market for prosperity — Tinubu 

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President Bola Tinubu has expressed the need for the country to organise its disorganised Small and Medium scale Enterprises (SMEs) in order to enable greater organisation and formalisation.

The president stated this at the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) and United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) Generation Unlimited (GENU) Breakfast Roundtable meeting, a side event at the ongoing 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, Tuesday.

Tinubu, who was represented by the Minister for Trade and Industry, Doris Uzoka-Anite, said they are the engines of Nigerian and African economic growth, adding that they contributed almost half of national GDP, and more than 80 percent of employment. 

At the event which also served as a forum for the launch of the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) Impact Report titled “The Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme: A Decade of Impact”,  Tinubu stated the need to invest in SMEs, stressing that governments and the private sector have important roles to play in this regard. 

He explained that the investment must be coordinated, targeted, and generous, noting that this is where the example of the Tony Elumelu Foundation is a worthy role model for all.

“We must organise the disorganised SME market, and enable greater organisation and formalisation. They were the engines of Nigerian and African economic growth, adding that they contributed almost half of national GDP, and more than 80 percent of employment.

“We must invest in SMEs. Governments and the private sector have important roles to play in this regard. Our investing must be coordinated, targeted, and generous. This is where the example of the Tony Elumelu Foundation is a worthy role model for all.

“We must create and expand pathways for our SMEs to export their products and services and integrate into global value chains.”

Meanwhile, The President lamented that Africans are not doing enough for Africa, noting that Tony Elumelu has been the major person driving investments in supporting the youths and start-ups. 

Tinubu emphasized the need for Africans to challenge themselves a bit more further, stating that Africa has some of the richest people on the planet including natural resources.

He urged them to take up the challenge upon themselces as Africans to support one another and stop looking for international organisations for donor funding. 

“We will rather have donor funds coming in to support what we have on ground already and not them coming to give us a seed or showing us the way. 

“I don’t think we are doing enough as Africans for Africa. We need to do a lot more. Tony Elumelu has been the major person driving investments in supporting the youths and start-ups.

“We need to challenge ourselves a bit more further. Africa has some of the richest people on the planet. We have a resource-rich continent with huge population of young people.

“We need to take up the challenge upon ourselves as Africans to support one another. It is about time we stopped looking for international organisations for donor funding. We need to go out of that mentality.

“We will rather have donor funds coming in to support what we have on ground already and not them coming to give us a seed or showing us the way.

“We actually know how to do things. In Africa, we have a rich culture and if we go back to our tradition, there is a whole lot we can learn from each other.” He said.

The president, therefore, commended Elumelu for the impact his foundation has had on young people and SMEs in the country and beyond since 2010.

In his remarks, The Founder TEF, Tony Elumelu said such highlights the significant contribution of the TEF’s flagship 100 million dollars Entrepreneurship Programme in advancing Africa’s socio-economic development. 

Elumelu noted that the foundation took a bold step to rewrite and change Africa by enhancing entrepreneurship development to galvanise African solutions 13 years ago.

According to him,  TEF has lit a beacon, and there is a need for the beacon to shine brighter and better. To do thi we need the support and collaboration of everyone. 

“100 million dollars is a drop of water in the ocean compared to what we need in Africa. Young Africans need economic support. We’ve seen the devastating effect of climate change, how our young ones due to hopelessness are migrating and living in difficult situations. We want to put a stop to that.”

Elumelu, therefore, called for collaboration to prioritise young Africans, bring more women to economic activities and alleviate poverty, adding that poverty anywhere is a threat to all of us everywhere.

Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, while sharing the Lagos experience at the gathering,  said that TEF’s work align with Lagos State programmes on economic empowerment and poverty reduction. 

The Governor said that collaborative efforts must be evolved to enhance the scale of impact to deepen inclusion, equity and fairness.

Assistant Administrator and Regional Director for Africa (UNDP), Ahunna Eziakonwa,  who also spoke at the event, said they partnered TEF due to similar belief in galvanising development across Africa and globally, adding that Africa’s wealth was its population, which constitutes 70 per cent of young, vibrant and innovative Africans. 

“It is our loss if we don’t invest in them because that is the future of prosperity.

“I therefore called for enhanced collaboration and investment to strengthen economic development of African youths.”Ahunna said.

Earlier Speaking, TEF Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Somachi Chris-Asoluka, said the organisation is the partner of choice for all development agencies across the world who want to transform the way they give to Africa, who want to have a more catalytic, impactful partnership with the African continent.

“The Tony Elumelu foundation is a leading philanthropy in Africa empowering young African entrepreneurs from all 54 African countries. 

“We launched our flagship program, the Tony Elumelu foundation Entrepreneurship programme in 2015 with a $100 million commitment by Mr Elumelu and his family. 

“His goal was to see 10,000 African entrepreneurs over 10 years, in only eight years, we have more than surpassed that target to date.

“We have funded 18,000 entrepreneurs, disbursing over a 100 million dollars directly as seed capital to these entrepreneurs and they have gone on to create over 400 thousand jobs across all African countries,” Somachi said.

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