Nigeria Cottage Industry: NEPC intensifies efforts to grow SMEs
In a bid to boost the capacity of cottage industries in the country, the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) has reaffirmed its commitment to ensure that Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are given the necessary assistance to grow and impact more significantly on the Nigerian economy.
Speaking at the weekend while inspecting the facility of Mina Stones Limited, an indigenous gem stones company in Abuja, the CEO of NEPC, Olusegun Awolowo said the Council has strategically developed initiatives to support and help grow SMEs in the country.
Awolowo explained that in order for the Council to render significant assistance, “We developed the Export Development Fund (EDF) targeting the growth of MSMEs in the country”.
He further explained that the Fund allows pre-shipment incentives to SMEs in the Nigeria. “The Pre-shipment incentives we are offering, we have never done it before in the history of NEPC, rather we focused on the post-shipment incentives which means that support was only available for big companies “.
“But with the Export Development Fund, we are able to support small businesses like the Mina Stones in training, capacity building and access to finance at very low interest rates”.
Awolowo commended Mina Stones for starting small. “You are using gem stones to add – value to the economy of the country by processing stones acquired locally into finished products. Don’t be dismayed about the prospects of starting small, most big companies in the developed world started with the cottage industry”.
He lamented that “people just come to Nigeria and take our stones, steal them or export them”, a situation he said was making the country to lose huge revenue from the mining sector.
On her part, the Founder of Mina Stones, Lotanna Amina Egwuatu said the company was born out of passion. “I have always have passion for gem stones and the company was created to express that passion”.
She commended the NEPC for the support they have given SMEs in the cottage industry particularly Mina Stones. “NEPC has been very supportive especially in the area of training which has boosted our capacity”.
“Initially we had challenges because people were not familiar with gem stones especially the ones from Nigeria even though they were buying Nigerian gem stones outside Nigeria”.
“We strived to let people understand that you can actually invest in gem stones the way people invest in gold. You know people are more familiar with gold, but with time, people started accepting gem stones jewelries”.
Egwuatu solicited for more training as a way of boosting capacity in order for the country’s SMEs to be able to cope with the demands especially at the International market.