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The Economic Forum Series: MSMEs must focus on digitalisation to drive growth, productivity

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A group of high-powered panelists on Thursday equipped entrepreneurs in Nigeria with the right mindset needed for the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to drive productivity and growth in a digital economy.

Speaking at the third edition of Vanguard newspapers annual economic summit, themed : Enhancing MSME’s Productivity and Growth in an Emerging Digital Economy, all of the panelists agreed that digital technologies must be embraced to ensure MSMEs play its significant role in the growth of the Nigerian economy.

The conference in strategic partnership with Bank of Industry (BoI) and Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) featured key players, stakeholders, regulatory and policy decision makers across the MSME sub-sectors, MDAs, NGOs, Academia, Development Finance Institutions, Industry and Business Thought Leaders.

The speakers include, Prof. Olayinka David-West, Associate Dean, Lagos Business School, LBS (keynote speaker);Mr. Olukayode Pitan, MD/CEO, Bank of Industry (BoI); Olawale Fasanya, DG/CEO, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN); Engr. Abdulrashid Yerima, PhD, President, NASME & NiQIF.

While delivering the keynote address, David-West said “Productivity is key in all we do. We lose a lot of man hours to unproductivity. We count output, we don’t count efforts. We need to become more efficient with technology.”

David-West also suggested potent recipes for digital transformation that are capable of helping MSMEs achieve economic growth and development.

She identified investment in strategy, people, processes, culture, business model, digital leadership and ownership and agility as the key note ingredients that MSME need to prioritize to achieve full remain favourably competitive in the global market.

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On his own side, Fasanya emphasised that digitization is capable of reducing unnecessary costs in business operations.

He said this at the ongoing Vanguard Economic Forum Series holding at the Civic Center, Ozumba Mbadiwe, Victoria Island, Lagos.

“Digitization reduces transaction costs, cutting costs on transport and other logistic and operational costs”

“We also have the credit information this was conceived for giving MSMEs detailed information by various forms of loans such personal loans, business loans, mortgage that are available by different financial institutions. Through the portals we can know different funds available, what are the requirements, and what you need to do to access funds from the banks. And we tend to have access to the portal

“A lot of Nigerians are looking for loans but have not tested business. Sometimes, business is not about money, it is about capacity. You need capacity to run your business successfully.” He noted.

Responding to Fasanya’s position, Yerima said more awareness on the importance of digital technologies must be continually pushed to close the wide digital divide.

His words: “A lot of people don’t have the detailed knowledge to operate. For instance, they are afraid of going into digital way of doing things if you look at how PoS people defraud.

“It is difficult. The challenges are there, but also solutions are.

“One of the solutions is to intensify awareness. We have to let people know and how to access this.

For instance, Kenya is giving laptops to be used in schools.” He said.

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