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Exporters seek government’s support for small businesses

With the ratification of the African Continent Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), coupled with large number of Small and Medium scale Enterprises (SMEs) in the country, exporters have called on government to provide more institutional support to aid growth of businesses.

The institutional support, the exporters said, includes support in the establishment of export clusters and building of export villages for SMEs, so that they can come together and produce quality products for exportation. They said government’s support was paramount, as most of their products face lots of competition from other products coming into the country.

Speaking at a workshop on “Export Logistics: Challenges and Prospects”, organised by the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), in Lagos yesterday, the facilitator, Kola Awe, also urged government to put in place a public-private partnership (PPP) arrangement in packaging materials, saying that an average SME cannot afford the cost.

“Government should provide them packaging materials and they pay for it under PPP agreement, either with the Organised Private Sector (OPS), or with intervention agencies like UNIDO and USAid”Awe, who is also the Chairman, NACCIMA Export Group, (NEG), said the essence of the workshop was to awaken the participants’ appetite for non-oil export, especially in opening their mindset on the potential in export and logistics business, and also to assist them in their businesses.

In building their capacities in the business, he urged them to be very diligent, honest, have eyes for details, be careful in transactions, and read all agreements.Earlier, Regional Co-ordinator, South West, NEPC, Samuel Oyeyipo, said the workshop, is also to bring together, those who are newly registered in the export business, by giving them the necessary foundational knowledge required in the exports business, especially as it relates to procedures and documentations for non-oil exports.

On challenges both in the area of products and logistics, he said that as some of the products are not found in the Lagos environment, logistics of moving them to the hinterlands to the port is a major challenge.Research Officer, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Western Zone, Maduako Onyekachi, said NIMASA is collaborating with NEPC to advise some of the exporters of the alternative ways of moving their foods for export process.

According to him, many exporters face the challenge of bringing their goods through the roads, which make most of the products get spoilt. Using the marine equipment, he said goods can get from the point of harvest to point of exporting at a record time. He said the programme has helped them to explore a broader view in the export and logistics business.“We are ready to link them with those that have the marine equipment and are willing to lease it to them,” Onyekachi said.

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