In Nigeria where unemployment is a serious issue, the local businesses have a special position in the industrial sector because it has created employment and has been able to utilise labour. The local businesses, otherwise known as SMEs which means, Small And Medium Enterprise are everywhere, found on every street and corner as they surround us.
There is however no universal definition of SMEs that is widely accepted as it differs and varies from countries, but this is usually based on employment, assets or combination of the two. Institutions and organizations define SMEs in different ways depending on the purpose and the objective. Take for example, according to Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development OECD (2005) SMEs are considered to be independent firms that employ less than a given number of employees. However, SMEs were classified in terms of size, and financial assets.
The Small and Medium Industries and Equity Investment Scheme (SMIEIs), defined SME as an enterprise with a 200 million naira maximum asset base, with the exclusion of land and working capital and with a workforce of not less than 10 employees and not more than 300 employees. Akabueze,(2002).
The Third National Development plan of Nigeria (1975 – 1980) defined a small scale business as a manufacturing firm that employs less than ten people, or whose machinery and cost of equipment does not exceed N600,000
The Federal Government Small Scale Industry Development Plan of 1980 defined a small scale business in Nigeria as any manufacturing process or service industry, with a capital not exceeding N150, 000 in manufacturing and equipment alone.
These definitions give a clearer explanation as to how the meaning of SMEs differs and varies. However, just to give you a clearer understanding of what local businesses or SMEs mean, they are independently owned organisations that require less capital and less workforce and less or no machinery. They are ideally suited to operate on a small scale to serve a local community and to provide profits to the business owners.
Most enterprises in Nigeria, most of which are in the commercial sector are categorized as small businesses. The role of the small and medium enterprises towards the development of Nigeria is of great importance as it has contributed greatly to the country in terms of growth and development and also in providing employment opportunities.
From seminars to workshop initiatives for SMEs both locally and internationally, a lot is being said about SMEs all over the World.
According to the Central Bank of Nigeria report (2003), SMEs are a very important economic catalyst in developing and industrialized countries.
According to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), developing countries can conquer poverty and inequality by democratizing, deregulating, and liberalizing the integration of the global economy. Recent studies have shown that SMEs contribute to over 55% of GDP and over 65% of total employment in high-income countries also that SMEs and informal enterprises account for over 60% of GDP and over 70%of total employment in middle-income countries (OECD, 2004).
However, considering the term “small”, there’s a whole lot of enormous challenges that come with it. In Nigeria, the factors working against the development and growth of local businesses are quite numerous, some of which include:
1. The issue of funding is a major problem with SMEs in Nigeria. However, the problem is not how to source it but the accessibility to either short or long term loans.
2. Lack of infrastructural facilities is a serious impediment to the performance of SMEs. The problem of inadequate infrastructural facilities includes electricity, good road network, availability of potable water, and solid waste management. These infrastructures are left to the business owners to provide themselves.
- Poor Management and Low Entrepreneurial Skill Base is a serious clog in the survival of small businesses as there is a lack of essential and required expertise in business which leads to wrong and costly decisions and mismanagement.
- Entrepreneurs often blame their failures on inadequate sales. However, the problem lies with poor marketing skills that could help promote their sales.
- Most entrepreneurs go into business without proper planning by taking a realistic view of what their strengths and weaknesses are, let alone giving careful consideration and analyzing the economic trends or business conditions in that particular sector of activity, which sometimes leads to mishandling when the business starts to expand.
- The root of most employee problems in Nigeria is poor personnel management. They put aside personnel matters till crises set in. Such crises usually pose serious threats to the firm’s survival if they are not promptly looked into.
- The harsh deteriorating macroeconomic environment in Nigeria has adversely affected the performance of small business enterprises and has posed as a major challenge to their survival and growth. Most small business enterprises are struggling with the problem of uncertainty caused by the unstabilized macroeconomic environment and policy shifts.
With all of this ongoings, some of the solutions preferred to ease these challenges include:
1. The need for government, and non-governmental organizations to create Seminars and workshops initiatives and other forums, to establish a platform for the interaction of SMEs owners/managers with others which can help to improve on their management capabilities.
2. Government should also provide the necessary infrastructures in order to ease the burdens and thereby encourage and promote rural industrialization.
3. The SME owners/managers should strive to develop effective marketing strategies in order to boost business operations which will become profitable.
4. It is important for SMEs to develop good personnel management policies to avoid crises that could affect their business.
5. Local business owners should take to proper planning, realizing his strengths and weaknesses before diverting into any business to avoid mishandling.
6. Goverments should help create a macroeconomic environment that is stable as it will enable these local businesses to make reasonable forecasts on costs, turnover, and return on investment.
7. The government should help in making funds easily accessible to SME owners/managers, be it short or long term loans that could help to encourage them to execute their business plan.
8. SMEs operators should also develop their competences in managing and sustaining their businesses by constantly engaging in training, research and development.
What policy changes, other challenges hold for MSMEs in 2020 – Chief Economist, PwC
The startup companies are valued at over $1 billion because the uncertainties of doing business in Nigeria are quite high.
It is a given that 2020 has been one of the most trying years for business owners and entrepreneurs. Some businesses have been crushed completely, with some left barely breathing.
The year started with the announcement of the increased VAT rates, moved on to the coronavirus pandemic and its attendant challenges, the global oil crisis and its implications on national revenue, and just after the easing of the lockdown, the recent increase in fuel price. What do all these connote for Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises that were already groaning under stiff economic policies and trying to survive the hard days? Your guess is as good as mine.
Taxation in the middle of a pandemic
Amid all of these challenges, the government (through its agencies) trying to widen its tax net and improve revenue, with more duties and tax options being imposed on Nigerians. Just recently, as courier and logistics business operators were still trying to grapple with the implications of the increased NIPOST license fees, when NIPOST and FIRS went on a social media war of words over which agency is constitutionally justified to collect the Stamp Duties.
There is also the recent rental tax announced by the government, a move still being protested by unions who have argued that this pandemic period is a time for the government to give out palliatives, not widen its tax net.
What do the multiple changes and challenges in 2020 mean for MSMEs?
In a recent tweet on his handle, Partner & Chief Economist at PwC Nigeria, Andrew Nevin (Ph.D.) noted that the current circumstances will stifle the entire economy and constrain MSMEs from growing, as it is quite difficult to grow in an economy that is not growing.
“… The complexity and cost of governance and the fiscal crisis is leading to a situation where successful companies in the tax net are subject to more and more taxes, which means they cannot grow and some companies in the formal economy will try to move back to the informal economy, further compounding the issue,” Nevin tweeted.
… the complexity and cost of governance, and the fiscal crisis is leading to a situation where successful companies in the tax net are subject to more and more taxes, which means they cannot grow …
— Andrew S. Nevin, PhD (@nevinomics) August 7, 2020
Nevin also noted that even though the SMEs employ over 80% of the country’s workforce, the startups in Nigeria hardly get to the point where they are valued at over $1 billion. And this is because the uncertainties of doing business in Nigeria are quite high. Gokada, for instance, had a thriving business environment and was set to break even when the new policy was introduced banning motorcycles across major routes in Lagos. This, he said, shows the uncertainty of the business environment in Nigeria.
… a very good example is GoKada … they invested heavily in Lagos, and the Governor was supportive .. then for perhaps very good reasons security requires that the business is banned … and the GoKada investment has been lost …
— Andrew S. Nevin, PhD (@nevinomics) August 7, 2020
In addition, attracting global capital to scale a unicorn requires more money than are readily available for risky companies in Nigeria. The challenging business environment and the ‘reputation’ associated with the Nigerian flag makes it very hard to get sufficient external capital.
According to him, SMEs entering the formal sector means higher productivity and monitored payment of taxes. Yet, entry into the formal sector is still a choice most small businesses do not want to embrace due to the economic environment.
“… if the cost and complexity of entering the formal sector is too high, then the SME will elect to stay in the informal sector with all the attendant issues, including that they can be subject to harassment by the authorities,” he said.
He noted that the large SME sector arises partly from unemployment and people rushing into entrepreneurship as a means of livelihood; as well as the difficulties to grow a large and strong business.
“These type of statistics always tell us the sector is huge but it is huge because it is too difficult to grow big companies, so this is not a sign of strength. The best structure for the economy is to have strong large companies that then create room for SMEs to be part of their ecosystem.
“Large companies raise standards (look at quality of Dangote companies for example) and raise productivity and create opportunities for others so large SME sector is sign that business is too difficult because if Nigeria was functioning correctly, we would have 100+ Dangotes in the Economy,” Nevin tweeted.
Explaining the challenges of MSMEs in Nigeria, Chairman and Managing Partner at Ofuani Maidoh & Co, Clement Ofuani, noted that small businesses in Nigeria have more pressing challenges to deal with than the government-imposed fiscal burdens.
Ofuani told Nairametrics in an interview, that the harsh and hostile operating environment makes for a more serious challenge for small businesses.
“Epileptic electricity power supply, inefficient transportation system and insecurity impose more operating costs on MSMEs than the fiscal taxes listed,” he stated.
Ofuani, who served as Senior Special Assistant to President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua on Policy, explained that the Finance Act waives income tax for companies with turnover below N25 million, thus granting fiscal reliefs to most small businesses.
“The stamp duty on rental agreements and other agreements are additional burdens as is the increase of VAT to 7.5% but the below-the-table taxes paid by MSMEs in form of unreceipted ‘taxes’ to the security personnel along the transportation corridors, and to bureaucrats for normal government services are the greatest frustrations that make Nigeria uncompetitive in global commerce and as an investment destination,” Ofuani stated.
Amid all of these formal and informal challenges, it becomes very difficult for the small start-up to grow beyond its startup stage and become a big company.
The on-going pandemic and recent policies have done little or nothing to address these challenges and despite the palliatives, loans, and support schemes being launched by the government at various levels, most of these small businesses will still find their growth stunted by some of these “unreceipted taxes”.
GEEP provides COVID-19 palliative microloans to 87,614 traders
The loans were in line with the government’s policies to reduce poverty and boost productivity.
The Federal Government of Nigeria, through the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP), has provided a COVID-19 palliative relief loans to about 87,614 traders across twenty states. This was disclosed earlier today through a brief press statement that was made available via the government’s official Twitter handle.
According to the disclosure, the microloans have helped to reduce extreme poverty and encouraged productivity following the easing of the lockdown. Part of the statement said:
“In line with the vision of the Nigeria Government to curb poverty and boost productivity in different parts of Nigeria, GEEP has provided palliative microloans to 87,614 petty traders hit by COVID19 pandemic in 20 states of the country in the first phase of disbursement.
“These palliative microloans have helped petty traders revive their businesses, as the government eases lockdown measures nationwide. The second phase of the disbursement will target 412,386 petty traders across the country.”
In line with the vision of @NigeriaGov to curb poverty and boost productivity in different parts of Nigeria, @geep_ng has provided palliative microloans to 87,614 petty traders hit by #COVID19 pandemic in 20 states of the country in the first phase of disbursement.#GovtAtWorkNG
— Government of Nigeria (@NigeriaGov) August 10, 2020
The Federal Government also announced that the second phase of the loans would be disbursed to a 412,368 trader across the country in a bid to restart economic productivity as the government eases the economic lockdowns that have heavily affected the informal and formal sectors.
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The palliative schemes under the GEEP scheme include FarmerMoni, TraderMoni, and MarketMoni.
FG releases new details on MSMEs support scheme, budgets N200 billion for loans
The Bank of Industry will also join to coordinate the implementation of the scheme.
The Federal Government has released new details on the Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) support scheme being rolled out under the National Economic Sustainability Programme.
According to estimates provided, the sum of N50 billion will be used to provide payroll support, N200 billion for loans to artisans, and N10 billion support to private transport companies and workers
The government disclosed in a tweet on the official handle of the government, the support scheme will include a Guaranteed Off-take Scheme for priority products, and an MSMEs Survival Fund.
The Federal Govt is rolling out, under the NESP, support schemes for MSMEs nationwide, including a Guaranteed Offtake Scheme (guaranteeing off-take of priority products); and an MSMEs Survival Fund that will make payroll support available to save jobs & sustain local production. pic.twitter.com/yLkHQn6zy3
— Government of Nigeria (@NigeriaGov) August 10, 2020
Modalities for the take-off scheme
The first track is a Guaranteed Off-take Scheme which will ensure continued local production and safeguard 100,000 existing small businesses to save 300,000 jobs.
Priority products include processed foods, personal protective equipment, hand sanitizers, face-masks, face-shield, shoe-covers and pharmaceuticals.
The implementation committee chaired by Ambassador Mariam Katagum, Minister of the Federal Ministry of Industry Trade and Investment, will collaborate with private sector MSME associations to verify and screen applications from bidding MSMEs, define quantity and price of products required, and also get participants to join in the procurements.
SME survival fund
With a budget of N15 billion, the SME survival fund is expected to sustain 500,000 jobs in 50,000 SMEs.
Major sectors to benefit from the SME survival fund include hotels, restaurants, creative industries, road transport, tourism, private schools and export-related businesses.
The committee will identify eligible SMEs and screening and verification for this fund will be based on company registration, and tax registration. The implementation committee will approve disbursements through microfinance banks and fin-tech credit providers.
MSMEs that are unregistered will receive support to complete registration with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), and all participants will be expected to make payments based on signed agreements.
The Bank of Industry will also join to coordinate the implementation of the scheme.
The scheme will last 3 months with Ambassador Mariam Katagum as Chairman, while Ibukun Awosika, Founder of The Chair Centre Limited (TCCL), and First Bank Nigeria will serve as the Vice Chairman.
More details are to be released subsequently from the Implementation Committee.
In July 2020, the Federal Government announced plans to roll out a N2.3 trillion stimulus package and survival fund for Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to stay afloat amid the economic challenges imposed by the pandemic.
The Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who also heads the Economic Sustainability Committee, announced it at the 2020 edition of the Micro MSMEs Awards held virtually in July.
To benefit from the scheme, MSMEs would have to go through a rigorous and painstaking verification process which will be based on certain criteria.
MSMEs that have between 10 to 50 staffs are qualified for this fund. The businesses must make their payroll available to the government for verification while applying for the fund. Once qualified, the MSMEs will be eligible to have their staff salary paid directly from the fund for 3 months.