Ex-Minister Seeks Support For SMEs


The immediate past Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Prof. Stephen Ocheni, has said that the country’s economy will experience recovery and rapid growth if entrepreneurship is given the adequate attention it deserves.

He lamented the situation where the economy had become import-dependent and undiversified.

He said with the right steps and decision, the country would record significant progress in key economic sectors.

He spoke while presenting the lead paper titled, ‘Entrepreneurship education for sustainable national development ’ at the 2019 annual national conference and home-coming of the Institute of Education, University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

The conference was meant to address the next step toward economic recovery with entrepreneurship education as one of the strategies for achieving sustainable economic development.

He recommended that friendly bank interest rates should be applied on loans to entrepreneurs to promote entrepreneurship.

He said, “Government should invest more in the provision of infrastructural facilities which is the base of any thriving entrepreneur, as easy access to a reliable and quality infrastructure increases productivity and efficiency, lower the market costs, increase access to available markets and sustainable growth.

“Government should avoid tougher business regulations which discourage business take-off but rather a simplified business regulation required to unleash the entrepreneurship potential of a nation.

“Government should keep the tax rate at a reasonable level for small and medium-sized enterprises which contribute more significantly to job creation and economic growth than they do to tax revenue.”

The former minister stated that it had been established that despite the critical importance of entrepreneurs in the economic development of a nation, African countries including Nigeria had not fully developed strategies to tap the economic resource.

He made a case for the establishment of Entrepreneurship University that would focus mainly on research and development as well as literacy training of entrepreneurs.

The don explained that the National Universities Commission should as a matter of policy, enforce the teaching of basic entrepreneurial courses in all universities as a compulsory course.

He listed inadequate financial resources for expansion, lack of managerial expertise, irregular power supply, lack of unity and mutual trust among Small and Medium-sized Enterprises and poor quality of products as some of the challenges hindering the growth of small businesses.

Others were lack of patronage of products by government agencies, use of obsolete technology for processing, lack of succession plan, inaccessibility to international markets and competition with cheaper imported products, he said.



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