By GAB EJUWA
What is the role of small and medium-sized enterprises in the economy and how can their prospects be boosted? Mr. Eric Idogun, a public administrator, in an attempt to answer the question, speaks about SMEs important role. According to Idogun, the managing director of Pepperoni Foods Ltd, who is also involved in the oil servicing sector, large-scale businesses are not the main drivers of economic activity but rather small and medium-sized enterprises. Idogun says unemployment has been a concern in Nigeria , but SMEs have the capacity to employ a large labor force.
The main challenges to establishing SMEs, according to Idogun, are their inability to secure financing and weak capacities to facilitate governmental procedures, which would expand their work.
What should be the role of government regarding small and medium scale enterprises?
The role of government should cover the provision of power, security, infrastructure, credit opportunities, to mention a few. These would create an enabling environment for businesses to grow and would build confidence in our economy for indigenous investors. Our people are scared of taking risk and losing their investments. However, they would readily partner with a foreign firm to set up shops in Nigeria.
As the governor of Bayelsa State, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan already had a national outlook which was evidenced in his detribalized policies. He made sure that every tourism oriented business in Bayelsa State benefited from his policies irrespective of tribe or religion.
Apart from Bayelsa State under Jonathan, have you benefitted from others?
We have benefitted more from Bayelsa State than other areas of operation. That is not to say we have not got assistance from other state governments. In Bayelsa, we got a loan, the enabling environment, good people, peace and security, etc. I’m grateful to the people of the state and government for their support.
What is your advice to state governors and agencies?
One of the primary reasons for the high level of unemployment in the country is the absence of viable small and medium scale enterprises. Many businesses have gone awry along the way and our graduates now go looking for employment in Shell, Elf, Chevron, etc.
The strength of any economy lies in the value of its small and medium scale industries as this guarantees national growth, thereby bringing down inflation. Government should invest in the real sector. It should provide education so we can have skilled hands at all levels and also create an enabling environment for young businesses to grow. Government, through its agencies, should partner with individuals and firms to create industries and job opportunities for the unemployed.
The Goodluck Jonathan Hospitality Scheme in Bayelsa State, which I benefitted from in 2006, will help the Nigerian state. Other states should take a cue from this and grow similar industry niches in their local environment.
The role of the Bank of Industry (BOI) should be clearly spelt out. The policies of the CBN relating to small and medium scale enterprises (SME) should be geared towards encouraging sustainability and growth of the industry. This is one of the most productive sectors in terms of employment generation.
What is your advice to other indigenous investors?
There are a lot of untapped opportunities in the small and medium scale industry in our country. If you have a dream or a vision, then go for it. Get professional advice, plan, come up with actual projections and take the plunge. It is our collective responsibility to grow our economy and make our country better and it truly begins with you.
In your case, how did it start?
Pepperoni Foods started in 2005 in Bayelsa State at NTA/Azikoro Road, Yenagoa as a restaurant. We ran it (mama put) for a couple of months until a friend who was special adviser to the governor informed us of a credit facility programme by the then Dr. Goodluck Jonathan government in Bayelsa State.
The programme was aimed at creating an enabling environment and enhancing economic development as well as boosting the hospitality industry in the state through interest free credit facilities .
Our application for the facility was granted and this gave us the opportunity to upgrade the existing small restaurant to a standard quick service outlet and to equally open a second but purpose built outlet with a bakery at Opolo in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State. We not only leveraged on the facility provided by the Jonathan-led administration but worked closely with the local tourism industry in Bayelsa State and beyond to become the Pepperoni you know today.
How far have you gone in terms of expansion?
We operate in the food processing industry, particularly indoor and outdoor catering to production of food and food related products. Presently, the catering arm of the business have since branched out into other areas . We now have a fully digitalized photo company, a table water company (Xyno waters), a sewage disposal unit (backward integration) , the production of confectionaries especially bread and cake at commercial level. I’m proud to say here that our Bread is the number one selling brand in Bayelsa State, Port Harcourt and Calabar at the moment. And, of course, we are fully into real estate.
What inspired you to go into this line of business?
From childhood, I have had a strong inclination for cooking. Although, I hold a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Port Harcourt, my heart remained in the food industry. For a while, I consulted with my friend and mentor in the business at Kingfisher Foods in Port Harcourt before I picked up the courage to take off.
Headlines Newsview all
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has allegedly recovered N900m from Mr. Waripamowei Dudafa, a former Special Assistant on Domestic Affairs to ex-President Goodluck ... Full story
As the nation marks its Democracy Day and President Muhammadu Buhari’s first year in office, Human Rights Writers Association Of Nigeria (HURIWA) has asked the ... Full story
Joint Task Force (JTF) has given ultimatum to the residents of Ijaw communities to produce High Chief Government Ekpemupolo alias Tompolo. They equally insisted that militants ... Full story
Rate this article
- Powerful Explosion Rocks Military Checkpoint Killing Many People
- Samuel Eto’o’s Private Jet Denied Permission to Leave Port Harcourt
- Soldiers storm Tompolo’s guest house in a bid to arrest him
Gorgeous Ghanaian actress, Ella Mensah is looking hot at the 2016 City People Awards holding in Lagos today at the Lekki Coliseum. It wasthrill and ... Full story
Newly appointed Manchester United Boss Jose Mourinho is keen to add Rio Ferdinand among his trusted backroom team. United legend Ferdinand is seen by Mourinho as ...
West Brom star Salomon Rondon has come to the aid of a 92-year-old woman who could not afford a life-changing operation. Ana Prato has dubbed the ...
Bayern Munich midfielder Mario Gotze has refused to reveal a definitive decision over his future, insisting he is only focused on Euro 2016. Liverpool have been ...
Ashley Coco Adeleke, Davido’s Elder sister tied the knot in a lavish Dubai wedding yesterday to her hubby, Caleb Adaji. The wedding cake, multi-million flower ...
Super Eagles of Nigeria had their first training session in Luxembourg Sunday after arriving from France. The team trained at the Stade Josy Barthel, which is ...
Actress Ronke Ojo-Anthony (Oshodi-Oke) just clapped back at a man who left a comment on a photo on her Instagram page. Ronke shared a photo of ...
Serie A champions Juventus are on the verge of signing Barcelona full-back Dani Alves this week on a two-year contract. The 33-year-old is expected to earn ...
The Super Eagles on Sunday arrived in Luxembourg City ahead of Tuesday’s international friendly against the country’s senior national male football team. The News Agency of ...
FC Barcelona have unveiled their home kit for the upcoming 2016 / 2017 season on Instagram and Daily Motion with Andres Iniesta, Lionel Messi, Luis ...