The one-day Accelerating Impact Webinar, which was organised by SEDIN held on Tuesday February 2021 commenced at 10:00am. The webinar, which also had studio audience, brought together about 50 Participants (On MS Teams, WhatsApp group and physically present in the studio) drawn from beneficiaries under the SEDIN programme, industry experts, CSOs, government agencies in and outside Abuja. There were three panel sessions and all were moderated by Nana Nwachukwu, an economic policy expert, who had a robust discussion with experts on the following topics; Unlocking opportunities through entrepreneurial skills, Access to Finance; Documenting your way to financial credibility and Ease of Doing Business – Building a unified Collateral registry; implications for women in MSMEs. There were question /answer sessions, feedback sessions and recommendations based on each topic by panellists. The event ended at 2:30pm.
The Pro-Poor Growth and Promotion of Employment Programme- SEDIN is part of the Sustainable Economic Development Cluster (SEDEC) of Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH that promotes economic development and employment.
SEDIN aims at improving the employment and income situation of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in Nigeria. The target groups of SEDIN are the owners and employees of MSMEs as well as members of other economically active low-income households. SEDIN projects are implemented in the federal, state and local levels in Niger, Ogun, Kano, Abia, Plateau, Lagos, Oyo, Kaduna and Edo States.
To achieve the programme’s goal of increased income and employment, various component of the SEDIN programme uses several strategies at different levels in the intervention states. To document these approaches for appropriate knowledge management, there’s an ongoing requirement for high quality content and products to enhance communication, visibility and proper documentation at all levels.
SEDIN developed a Story of Change document in 2020 which documented stories of accelerated impact based on SEDIN’s contributions to improve employment and income situations for MSMEs in Nigeria. This Webinar is being organised to further interrogate lessons from these stories of change and how to further implement the lessons for a sustained change.
Objectives of Participation in the Training Workshop
- Enlighten and direct beneficiaries on the shared lessons, inform on techniques and methods related to performing better as business owners in various sectors.
- Identify and discuss the lessons learned from participation in the different SEDIN programmes.
- Discuss the impact of COVID-19 on their businesses: how beneficiaries have sustained their business
- Promote youth entrepreneurship spirit through success stories and role models, and the development of networks of young entrepreneurs, knowledge exchange and other communication tools and platforms such as the media
Welcome remarks-Mr. Markus Wauschkuhn Head of Program-SEDIN
Mr. Markus welcomed participants to the webinar and gave a detailed information about the role that SEDIN is playing through the Pro-Poor Growth and Promotion of Employment in Nigeria Program in supporting Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise. Simply put, the aim of SEDIN is to generate employment and income in Nigeria by improving entrepreneurial framework conditions, access to financial service. SEDIN, through the GIZ program, which is part of the German cooperation with Nigeria implements various programs, one of which is the Sustainable Development Cluster, in which support is rendered in the whole eco-sphere of economic environment such as green economy, vocational training, digitalization and building the skills of business owners with support from the European Union. SEDIN is working with partners at state level, one of which is Plateau state amongst others states in Nigeria. Programs are coordinated at different levels. For instance, on the policy level, SEDIN supports change of regulatory framework, strengthening enabling environment for businesses for women, young people and returnees. At local level, SEDIN supports local economic development for individuals by enhancing business skills and business start-ups. Some areas of capacity building include; access to finance and credit opportunities to kick-off businesses. SEDIN works at different levels in different states using different approaches, taking into cognisance the importance of identifying what works and bringing synergy into different elements of its programs.
He mentioned that digitalization has received a big push as a result of Covid-19, which as an important factor, has affected businesses such as supply chains. It is therefore important to synergize practical steps towards strengthening businesses and enterprises that are already struggling. He emphasized on the need to focus on the young people by creating employment opportunities while using their own dynamics, ideas and use of technology and virtual tools. It is also important to develop new business models that can cope with the situation of Covid-19. He is delighted about the meeting as ideas will be generated from participants from different perspectives.
He concluded by expressing excitement over the webinar, an opportunity to learn from different perspectives on how to improve and also adopt practical strategies for future implementation in supporting different states of Nigeria.
Session 1: Unlocking Opportunities through entrepreneurial skills
This panel had a robust discussion on the issue of developing entrepreneurial skills and mindsets outside formal education. Today, too few graduates are equipped with the expertise needed in the job market. GIZ’s SEDIN project encourages the teaching of entrepreneurial skills from secondary school level through the SEA-Hub project for young adults to imbibe required life skills. This panel examined how some of those lessons have impacted on the beneficiaries and the possible scalability into government technical schools or monotechnic that cater to skilled training.
Babafemi Oyediran, SEDIN; Chinyere Akata, Executive Assistant in Made in Aba project; Joseph Luka-Beneficial of GIZ project
Session 2: Access to Finance; Documenting your way to financial credibility
Having access to finance gives SMEs the chance to develop their businesses and acquire better technologies for production, therefore ensuring their competitiveness. However, funding has remained one of the key SME internal issues that confront most enterprises in Nigeria today. For several reasons, large firms may have a comparative advantage over SMEs because of their business structure, credibility in the market and easy access to funding. The limited access to financing by SMEs usually impedes their productivity and growth. Evidently, SMEs face credit discrimination from banks because of opacity of their information, lack of structure and it is quite common that these SMEs do not have in place audited financial statements.
This panel reflected on ways that GIZ-SEDIN programme has helped MSMEs build credibility through documenting their accounting processes and financial literacy programmes.
Frank Ugo, Business man; Afolabi Olawale, GIZ/SEDIN Officer; Dr. Titilope Ojo, Trade consultant
Panel 3: Ease of doing business –Building a unified collateral registry; implications for women in MSMEs
There is a noticeable disparity in access to finance for women entrepreneurs. Research indicates that the major challenges women must deal with in starting their venture are lack of information, limited business support, limited access to business finance. The best way to empower women is to provide them equal access to factors of production like land, labour, capital and technology as well as unrestricted access to financing sources and market information. Secured transactions regimes are designed to make it easier for small and medium-size enterprises to obtain credit and other types of funding from both traditional and non-traditional financial institutions. However, these systems should be supported by effective enforcement mechanisms.
Discussion in this session focused on taxations, and how businesses owned by women can document and legitimize their assets as possible collateral for business loans.
Ana Vinambres, GIZ; Bibi Olufore, Special Adviser, Trade and Investment
Madam Margret is the MD of Tehi and Salma Enterprises, that is focused on food, crafts, cosmetics with locally sourced grains and herbs. Margret learned of the SME-LOOP programme in Jos for widows and persons living with disability. She registered to learn how to organize and market her business to increase profit. After the training, she has been able to set up an entire distribution chain from Jos to Kano, Abuja, Jalingo, Calabar and Niger Republic. She was able rebrand her products as she changes molds of her soap frequently. Margreth can now analyse her sales to ascertain which sold more. She learned about quality and compliance from her training with GIZ. She has registered her business with Corporate Affairs Commission, NAFDAC and trademark for her products.
Margret has successfully passed her knowledge to her daughters who are now expanding the neem soap business to Cyprus. Margret sees herself as a business woman who is expanding her empire.
Tolu has been in the business of processing cassava, which was not generating profit. Just when he was at the verge of giving up on entrepreneurship, he was informed about the SME-LOOP. He participated in the training where he learnt about financial management, book keeping, and ability to think outside the box. He was further exposed to the possibilities of grant. He won the grant from USAID and got subsequent grants. He has expanded his business from cassava to plantain plantations. He also mentors other people in business.
- Participated in GIZ-SME LOOP but before then, he was at the verge of giving up on entrepreneurship. He started with culturing of and cassava production but with GIZ, he was able to narrow down his focus by doing fish processing. He has a product called tasty fish. GIZ also helped him venture into plantain plantation, which was paused for a while because of security issue in the farm.
- During the training, he was exposed to hidden secrets in business i.e. financial management, book keeping. He learned how to think outside the box and manage business in an ‘interesting’ country like Nigeria.
- GIZ had helped him become aware of finances around him. He pitched his business to people who also supported his business. He admitted that he experienced some disappointed as well. However, he was able to face that challenges associated with business.
- He saw opportunities to get grant. He got a few grants while still in the SME –LOOP program
- GIZ made his create a functioning website, which was not available before.
- He has brought structure into the farm courtesy GIZ training.
- Before Covid-19, he had 7 full-time workers and usually recruits part-time staff during cultivation because he has 20 hectares of cassava farm.
- He got this confidence from the SME-LOOP training and glad he encountered GIZ. He was doing very well and had good sales until Covid-19
Challenges associated with Covid-19
- The cost of production became a challenge
- Exchange rate has increased
- The cost of raw materials has increased
- Customers are not able to meet up with the cost of products talk less of selling price
- Had to reduce the number of staff
- Had to cut down on expenses for example, reduced the cost of packaging fish
- He joined the Nigeria Catfish Farmers Association of Nigeria and there are ongoing deliberations on how to produce locally made fish feeds so as to reduce the cost.
- Customers are beginning to get weary of their capacity of purchasing goods from his farm.
He appreciated GIZ for the opportunity to learn and grow in business. He pleaded with GIZ to continue to encourage people by building their capacities to thrive in their various businesses. He also advised entrepreneurs not to give up regardless of current challenges.
Ismail had a passion of starting his own rice farm and processing produce with
no idea on how to commence. He heard about the Start-Up Loop on a radio program and decided to participate. He bid for a contract and won N300,000 which enabled him to kick start his business. GIZ training has helped him to build a network with other members of the –Start-Up Loop. He has been able to employ six people and intends to employ more. His advice is; “Do not rely on white collar jobs. Self-reliance gives opportunity for expansion”.
- Before he joined GIZ, he believed that white collar job is a form of security but this mind set changed.
- He has been with GIZ for the past two years. He was trained in 2019 where he was thought how to start his business. He had a business idea but lacked experience.
- It was an eye opening experience for him. He ventured into rice processing and was able to register his business with the Corporate Affairs Commission. All the while, he was still being trained by GIZ. He started his business immediately after the six-month training.
- GIZ thought him how to be independent and not to rely on white collar jobs.
- He had the challenge of financing his business and started sourcing for funds.
- He was able to make three hundred thousand naira (#300,000) not long after he started his business.
Challenges associated with Covid-19
- The ease of doing business has been affected.
- Due to Covid, he switched to ICT with the funds he got from his rice processing business. He started a social media application, a registered tech company. He announced that the App will soon be launched.
In terms of impact, he has employed six people and each has made about seventy thousand naira (#70,000) from his business. He usually transports his product from Niger state to Kano through his employees. He envisages the possibility of employing at least seventy people in future as he expands his business.
He believes self-employment provides more security than white collar jobs. He made reference to Dangote, who has been in business for more than 50 years. But as one with a collar job, the time frame is not more than 35 years. He added that self-reliance gives a leverage of earning for life, thereby leaving a legacy for the generations. He stated that a white collar job that cannot pay him up to five hundred thousand (#500,000) a month is not worth it.
He advised young people not to rely on white collar jobs because of the restrictions associated with such jobs and the timeframe for earnings is limited but self-reliance gives opportunity for expansion and wealth.
Sheyi was working online when a mail notification about the Start-Up Loop appeared. He applied and got in the first batch. As a person living with disability, it was difficult, as he had to take himself to Shagamu everyday for the training. He has been in the business of manufacturing and repairing solar panels and its accessories without business strategy. After the training, his business improved and his customers noticed the transformation. He stated that he separates his personal money from his business and pays himself from his earnings.
Banma Baba Suleiman
He read about the SME-LOOP program on Facebook and applied online. As the Managing Director of Zinna Shea products, he was looking into the possibility of learning from the training in order to expand his business. During the training, he learnt to organise and structure his business and now has an electronic system of business management and record keeping. He also learnt about market expansion and leveraged on the networks he built from the program.
Lessons from Covid-19
According to Jacob, his business collapsed because customers from Cameroon, Kaduna and other parts of the country stopped patronising him as a result of the pandemic. His staff were idle. Prior to Covid, he makes about two thousand worth of sale of his produce, but it has now reduced to five hundred to one thousand.
However, since the lockdown was lifted, business is picking up gradually as customers are beginning to patronize him.
Madam Margreth Ahmed
The GIZ training she received motivated her and exposed her to limitless opportunities in business. Her daughters, who has also learned from her is now expanding the neem soap business to Cyprus. She instilled the same business ideology she learnt from GIZ in them and they are progressing before the pandemic, which affected the business badly. However, they focused on online marketing which she never thought could work. She focused on WhatsApp while her daughters extended to Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and other online platforms. They get orders online and waybill to recipients. The lockdown was also an opportunity to modify the neem soap and invent new recipes, which are now available.
Now that the economy is picking up again, physical distribution of products has commenced and they still do online advertising and take orders.
A beneficiary of the SME-LOOP and financial literacy training, after which she moved from having a provision store to registering her hair saloon and also ventured into selling accessories/tailoring and animal husbandry. Her business was affected during the lockdown because as a tailor, her customers stopped bringing materials for her to sew due to lack of funds. Her birds were not laying well and she has to sell them off during the pandemic. Now that the economy is opening again, she just put in new birds now and as for the sewing part of her business, she had mass demand during the end of the year. She has been able to recover her loses to a certain degree and is still recovering.
Ese Joy Okuonghae
A beneficiary of the E-Cycle version of GIZ. She used the skills she got from GIZ to transform the welding workshop where she worked as an intern. According to Ese, the pandemic was a shock to everyone and it came when her business was about to pick up. Despite the challenges associated with Covid-19, she did not relent in her effort to advertise her services via social networks. She was in business during the lockdown but it was very slow, so she had to venture into bakery as food sellers were the ones that thrived in business during the pandemic.
A beneficiary of the SME-LOOP and financial literacy training. Using the knowledge gained from the training, she has improved on her tailoring business and has introduced some level of professionalism in her business such as records keep and improved customer service relations.
Business had been very good before Covid-19 because it led to low patronage from customers. The after effect of the pandemic is increase in the prices of tailoring materials. Meanwhile customers still expect her to give same price before the pandemic. They use the little gain from their business to prevent themselves from contacting the virus by buying hand sanitizers and liquid soaps.
Closing remark Ana Vinambres, GIZ
This has been an amazing experience of change that has demonstrated how interventions are successful when they when there is a clear win-win result for all the parties involved. It is also important to stress that success stories need concerted efforts from public and private stakeholders and how SEDIN and other partners can contribute to growth and development of sectors across states in Nigeria. All of this is in a proof of concept approach for a fuller scale up and replicability from public and private scale holders are still required. We want to thank all stakeholders who have supported SEDIN from the onset. We also appreciate our beneficiaries who are the reason for the meeting. She appreciated participants for being parts of the program.
The program ended at 2:30
- Leadership Newspaper 12/2/21 Pg 26: Phase 3 Of German Business Promotion Programme Benefits 125,000 Nigerians
- Economy e-paper- 17th Feb. pg 28: Why SEDIN Focuses On Entrepreneurship – Expert
- NIGERIA’S TRAINING GAP – ARISE NEWS REPORT – YouTube
- Leadership Newspapers- 17/2/2021 Pg. 28