The overriding obsession of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration since inception in 2015 is how to grow Nigeria’s economy into one of the strongest and virile in Africa. The President also understood in clear terms the certified global endorsement of the strategic hold of Micro, small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) in the growth of local and global economies.
By submissions of the International Council for Small Business (ICSB), MSMEs unarguably comprises 90 percent of operative firms in countries, about 70 percent of total employments and derives a whooping GDP growth rate of 50 percent. Therefore, the Buhari Presidency directed attention, energies and resources to Nigeria’s Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), the regulatory and coordination agency of MSMEs for their development.
The President sought to fully harvest the economic potentials of MSMEs in the growth of the Nigerian economy. Therefore, the initial appointment of Dr. Dikko Umaru Radda as the Director General/Chief Executive Officer of Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) in 2016 and the subsequent renewal of his tenure in March 2021 are the testimonies of Mr. President’s commitment to the economic ideas of poverty eradication and energizing a robust MSMEs subsector.
The SMEDAN boss, Dr, Radda, an entrepreneur per excellence, banker, astute administrator and proficient organizer has undoubtedly proved his mettle in galvanizing the potentials of MSMEs for the economic development of Nigeria in the past five years. His tenure has repositioned the agency, stamped the visibility of SMEDAN in national psyche and initiated multiple programmes to enhance entrepreneurship development in Nigeria.
Of particular significance is the rigorous campaigns mounted by Dr. Radda’s leadership which have drawn the attention of the Federal and state governments as well as other stakeholders, such as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in economic management affairs in the country through the recognition of MSMEs as an influential catalyst.
Thus, under the guidance of Radda, SMEDAN has initiated and consummated programmes like strengthening of business membership organizations, Enterprise Network Initiatives, Commercialization, Empowerment Initiative for ICT, Financial Empowerment for MSMEs and Credit Information Portal. The agency has also contributed immensely to Nigeria’s search for economic development evident in platforms of rural industrialization, formalization of business development, loans and incentives and moratoriums issued to business men/women in the country.
Other robust signature programmes or packages like the Young Business owners in Nigeria (Y-BON), Conditional Grant Scheme (CGS), Leather Cluster Enterprises Scheme, Garment and Textile Cluster Growth Support Scheme among hordes of others have been the more exciting and beneficial aspects of SMEDAN’s impacts on entrepreneurs. No doubt, these initiatives have repositioned MSMEs and catapulted them to higher to productive capacities.
Therefore, Dr. Radda’s leadership of SMEDAN has assisted MSMEs access finance, workspace, capacity building, working capital, equipment, micro insurance, formalization and business development services. It explains the loud endorsements from stakeholders when President Buhari reappointed Dr. Radda for another tenure of five years, as they were sure of continuity with these laudable initiatives.
The stakeholders believe SMEDAN under Radda has repositioned itself as a One- Stop Shop for MSMEs development or growth, which has attracted other benefits like growth of the economy, employment generation and poverty reduction. SMEDAN under Radda’s leadership has effectively entrenched entrepreneurial culture, ambitious industrialization of rural areas, enhancing industrial cluster development ideas through the MSMEs to increase GDP and support of Nigeria’s quest for full utilization of her export potentials to other parts of the world.
Upon the reappointment of Radda as SMEDAN boss, an Abuja based businessman, Alhaji Abubakar Toyin, a stakeholder in the MSMEs sub-sector expressed gratitude to President Buhari for his commitment to the promotion entrepreneurial culture in a Nigeria as symbolized by the current effectiveness of SMEDAN operations. He was explicit that the SMEDAN’s current Director General has succeeded in reviving major programmes and launched fresh ones which have impacted positively on the MSMEs subsector.
The stakeholders are particularly thrilled with Radda’s successful launch of the Conditional Grant Scheme (CGS) and the One Local Government, One Product (OLOP) programmes which are trending and greatly assisting entrepreneurs’ in the MSMEs subsector of the economy by providing access to funding finance. And in the Covid-19 pandemic era, the agency’s excellent coordination and implementation of these packages have injected life into previously dormant businesses.
The SMEDAN boss has also embarked on aggressive and mass registration programme of MSMEs. The essence is to develop a comprehensive national database of all MSMEs in the country. And the registration particulars also capture the basis of products, sectors, geographical locations, size, and owners’ personal information. The MSME’s registration which is both digital (through SMEDAN website) and manual through enumerators, conducted in alliance with National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) is free-of-charge. Certificates are issued to entrepreneurs’ who avail themselves for the registration.
The MSMEs registration is beneficial in many ways. It will enable SMEDAN know and identify all the MSMEs in the country by location, accurate data, business products/produce, skills specialization among others for the over 41 million MSMEs in the country so far registered. Additionally, the initiative is also hunting for women entrepreneurs and talent hunt to discover national hidden talents in fashion and arts and craft.
According to Dr. Radda, the MSMEs mass registration will enable the agency use the data the “…. to formulate policies for MSMEs because of the accuracy involved. And then, any intervention that is coming from the government can easily be tapped from that. You can easily know the MSMEs you have and easily channel your intervention to them… it will help us, when investors come to the country. If they are looking for a particular product, we know those who are producing them and their location. Investors can use that source to get raw materials, and if it is skills they need, they can know the location of the person.”
And in the last few years, SMEDAN has intervened impressively in ensuring entrepreneurs under the MSMEs are organized to access the FGN’s Agri-Business/Small and Medium Enterprise Investment Scheme (AGMIES) loans. It has raised platforms which have rendered entrepreneurship training, created public awareness of the loans, and assisted entrepreneurs’ in developing suitable business plans to access these loans, which are finally handled by the NIRSAL Microfinance Bank and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The SMEDAN boss, a foresighted and compassionate administrator also discovered that many determined entrepreneurs’ under MSMEs were frustrated from accessing the FGN’s several loan schemes because of the demand for collaterals as condition for approval of the loans designed to empower more Nigerians become self-reliant. To resolve this hurdle, while marking the 2018 MSMEs day, Dr. Radda persuaded and convinced the Buhari Presidency to embrace more flexible leading policy by backing down on the request for collaterals to access the loans. And the President endorsed it.
Therefore, from 2019 henceforth operators of MSMEs boosted their businesses by massively accessing the loans without the usual demand for collaterals. Thus, the Buhari Presidency disbursed over N100billion under this loan scheme through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Dr. Radda has been working in the last two years to revise the National Policy on MSMEs document which is due for revision. When finally approved, the new National Policy on MSMEs would encapsulate progressive contents in the classification of the MSMEs on the basis of indices of marketing, business development service, skills and capacity building contents.
The document also spells out strategies of its implementation by the various agencies and departments as well as the private sector stakeholders which are in the overall best interests of MSMEs entrepreneur’s. The document is at the final stage of finishing touches. It has been submitted to the Ministry of Industries, Trade and Investment for verification, after which it will be forwarded to the Federal Executive Council for final approval.
Dr. Radda has also entrenched transparency and accountability in SMEDAN. He has introduced a reporting system, which prepares quarterly reports on its operations, which is forwarded to the chairman Technical Committee of the National MSMEs Council, who is the Minister of Industries, Trade and Investment. The reporting system allows government to closely monitor SMEDAN’s implementation of the programmes under its jurisdiction.
Therefore, it is an understatement to assert that Director General SMEDAN, Dr. Radda has performed excellently in all ramifications. He has sauntered the agency on the path of unprecedented progress and development, evident in the increased number of revived and expanding MSMEs in Nigeria.
Dr. Radda is a quintessential leader ordained for leadership and he has not disappointed by demonstrating his managerial astuteness in the MSMEs vital subsector of the economy. With him on the saddle, SMEDAN will soar to unimaginable levels in performances. It basically accounted for the renewal of his mandate by President Buhari.