SMEs Key to National development, says Onuzulike
By Felix Oti
The Manager of Anambra State Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), Engr. Chito Onuzulike has said that small and medium enterprise is the bedrock of national development if properly harnessed.
Onuzulike stated this during an Interactive session with relevant MDAs and stakeholders on empowerment support opportunities programme in Awka, Tuesday.
www.odogwublog.com reports that the programme was organized by Justice Development and Peace Caritas, Onitsha (JDPC) through the support of Christian Aid and funded by the government of United Kingdom (UK Aid).
Unveiling the role of the agency to the participants, Onuzulike stated that SMEDAN is a federal government agency that helps people grow their businesses by giving out loans especially in Agro processing.
Onuzulike at the programme, taught the participants the activities of Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) and how they can key in and benefit from the opportunity that abound in the agency.
She highlighted to the participants the packages from the agency including, ‘One local government, one product, loan and how it works’, including the registration process involved to access loans.
Explaining the importance of SMEs, she said any serious government understands that Small and medium enterprises are the engine of developing economies.
“Any government that have good economy follows and focuses on Small and medium enterprise. That is why we talk about ancient Japan, China, Malaysia, etc
“In SMEDAN, we deal with small enterprise and medium enterprise s. When one person employs people today and another employs again that is the way for proper national development.
“The essence of our packages is to help the low income earners grow.
Before you will be helped to grow, you have to organise yourself. If you are hand-to-mouth type of person, the loan is not for you .
“Before you can grow and impact the society, you must be structured and that is what SMEDAN stands for. One of the problems people have is that they always come without being structured.
“Some of the cooperatives societies in Nigeria have no structure. We do not give loans for agriculture, we are interested in processing. You make money when you add value. If you don’t add value to agriculture, then no money. That is why we lay more emphases on agro processing .
She urged the participants to always package their product to gain chance of being engaged to other countries like China and even to gain NAFDAC number for such products.
“On our One local government, one product package, we have covered Awka North, Orumba South, Njikoka among others”.
In the same vain, the Director Cooperative Department of Anambra State Ministry of Trade and Commerce, Nwabugo Okonkwo, took the participants through the criteria to form a cooperative group with a view of accessing any loan set aside by the government.
Her words: “Government have functional offices in all the local government areas of the state except in Nzam which has been taken over by flood.
” Government gives loan to people with proper documentation, address and a grantor that is in grade level 12 in civil service if they meet the requirements. The reason is that many people have ran away with government money so if you have a structure, well registered cooperative, you will get your loan.
In reaction ,one of the participants and a beneficiary, Mr. Simon Orakwe, from Amanuke, Awka North local government area of Anambra state frowned on how some of the government agencies, Bank of Agriculture (BoA) had misled people for their selfish gain.
Orakwe described the Bank of Agriculture (BoA) as” bundle of disappointments, ” stressing that they divert the things meant for masses for their personal use.
In the same way, he praised the management and staff of small and medium enterprise agency of Nigeria Anambra state, led by Engr Chito Onuzulike for being the most trustworthy agency in Anambra state.
Also, the Director, Civil Right Concern (CRC), Okey Onyeka, sensitised the participants on the importance of having voters card and the reason to come out on the election day and cast their vote without fear.