…Aims To Boost Local, Global Economic Growth Of SMEs
Connect Nigeria will equip thousands of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) with social and technological innovation to grow their businesses amid current economic challenges during the seventh edition of its annual Business Fair.
Chief Executive Officer, Connect Nigeria, Emeka Okafor, explained that lack of access to funds is not the only hurdle hindering the growth of the SMEs sector but operators’ unfamiliarity of social and technology know-how to grow businesses in today’s tech-driven world.
Okafor, who spoke in Lagos during the week ahead of the Fair billed for Tafawa Balewa Square, said the technology-driven commerce and business-enabling platform is set to use the fair to aid access to required skills and partnerships for SMEs in the country, Africa and the rest of the world.
The 2019 edition of Connect Nigeria’s Business Fair themed: ‘GROW GLOBAL’, will have key players in the economic, social and technology sectors in attendance and key note speeches will be delivered, as well as an interactive panel session. Some of the key speakers are Co-Founder, So Fresh limited, Mrs. Abimbola Balogun; Chief Executive Officer, Farmcrowdy limited, Mr. Onyeka Akumah; Co-Founder, Platform NG, Mrs. Uju Obuekwe; Managing Director, SB Telecoms, Mr. Afolabi Abiodun, and General Manager, Win-Win Kitchen Limited, Mrs. Florence Opawoye, among others.
The fair, which will hold on April 26 and 27, 2019, at the Tafawa Balewa Square, TBS, Lagos, will also feature dedicated masterclasses that will be facilitated by pioneers in various industries, with hundreds of businesses exhibiting their products and services.
Okafor said, “Participants can explore the many business prospects available while entrepreneurs can learn the skills they need to grow their businesses in today’s tech-driven world. Taking part in the exhibition positions participants as a reputable brand, because their goods and/or services will be displayed, alongside brands from reputable companies.
“No product or service is off limits, participants should ensure the packaging is presentable. Over the years, there have been products and services ranging from Banking Solutions to Fashion & Beauty, Catering Services, Real Estate, Online Marketing hubs, Telecoms, ICT solution Providers, Booksellers, and Media Houses, among others.”
The Connect Nigeria boss, who said that there will be a segment specifically for ‘Made In Nigeria’ goods including handcraft, added that the fair is dedicated to promoting business for SMEs, assisting Nigerian businesses achieve global competitiveness, empowering thousands of business owners, start-ups, and aspiring entrepreneurs, enabling them to fast-track the growth of their businesses by leveraging the power of technology.
“United Nations projected that the country’s population will increase to 300 million by 2050 and a good number of these people are entrepreneurs. If we sustain this platform like we have continued to, it will affect the economy positively, especially when the population increases further,” he said.
According to the Head Marketing & Strategy, Rack Centre, Mrs Ejieke Maduka Ezeadiugwu, who was also present at the parley, she lauded the organisers of the Business Fair stating that equipping SMEs with the necessary technology and entrepreneurial skills as obtainable at the business fair sets the economy up for industrialisation, poverty alleviation, youth development, Foreign Direct Investment generation and SME development.
She said, “I urge the Federal Government to boost its capacity, competence, and legitimacy to mobilise and interact with all stakeholders, thereby creating an attractive investment climate for businesses to succeed in Nigeria.”
Director-General, Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce, Mrs. Joyce Akpata, who was also at the event, explained that other skills most Nigerian SMEs lack are their inability to clearly define roles and responsibilities, separate ownership and management of the entity and preparation of financial records among others.
She said, “The necessary reforms will open the way for public-private partnerships, which can provide investment for infrastructure development and maintenance. Government should facilitate cooperation with other international organisations and development finance institutions that can provide additional funds, while helping countries like Nigeria upgrade its productive capacity.”