Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo says the relentless drive, energy and creativity of the youth is the guarantee that Nigeria will prosper and provide jobs and opportunities for the millions of people in the country.
At the Fifth National National Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, MSMEs, Award held at the State House Conference Centre, Abuja, Prof. Osinbajo commended the innovative turn of mind of the youths in Nigeria and their resilience.
The Vice President said that the National MSMEs Award, instituted in 2018, has grown in leaps and bounds and has become a prominent feature in the annual event calendar of the MSME community in Nigeria, attracting thousands of prospective business owners, established entrepreneurs, regulators and financiers.
According to Prof. Osinbajo, the award applications have jumped from the 500 in 2018, to over 17,000 entries this year.
“The interest shown in the awards by Nigerian entrepreneurs has been tremendous,” he stated.
Cash, car prizes
Prizes for cars and millions were given to 10 different entrepreneurs who won in different categories of the awards this year.
It showed a marked difference from the beginning when only one car was given as a prize.
Osinbajo said: “in the past years, winners in the different categories have gone home with various prizes that have impacted their businesses and profiles – cash prizes, cars, and of course local and international media attention.
“The reward for the awards has also increased from an initial humble beginning of a 1-star prize car in 2018 for the MSME of the Year winner to 10 cars in all categories this year.
“This is to underscore the significant improvement that has been built between the private sector and the Federal Government over the years.
“The awards have also inspired many young entrepreneurs to greatness and some of the stories are simply incredible.”
The ten categories in which prizes were given to entrepreneurs this year were agriculture, manufacturing, technology innovation, creative art, furniture and woodworks, and beauty and wellness.
Others award categories were fashion and style, leather works, outstanding MSME Clinic participant and MSME of the Year.
Among the winners in the various categories was Thinkbikes Limited, which won the BOI award for excellence in manufacturing. Founded by Tolulope Olukokun, Thinkbikes Limited is a company which produces solar and battery-run bikes that can go up to 50 kilometres on a single charge.
Another remarkable enterprise that won an award was Phoenix Renewables Ltd, founded by Mustapha Abubakar Gajibo, which won the NITDA award in innovation.
The company designs and builds electric and solar-powered cars, tricycles and also vehicle and engine parts. The vehicles are now deployed for public transportation in the Maiduguri metropolis.
“By April they had conveyed over 21,000 passengers, Osinbajo said, adding “I had the singular pleasure of driving one of the electric cars when I visited the Phoenix renewables stand at the Borno MSME Clinic.”
There was also the Clintonel Advanced Engineering Centre, Access Bank MSME of the year award winner, founded by Tochukwu Clinton Chukwueke. The company builds high-precision parts, moulds, medical equipment, and auto engine parts.
The vice president said that these MSMEs tell the story of Nigeria’s great economic future.
“We are set to manufacture our vehicles, clean energy trucks and cars, and we are on course to manufacturing our weapons, armoured mobile platforms and aircraft. We have all it takes.
“But I believe that MSME in technology and manufacturing especially in the clean energy or green economy deserve special mention.
“I am convinced that this sector will be crucial in global industrial development in the coming years and will leapfrog Nigeria to economic prosperity.”
One of the winners, Mustapha Gajibo whose company, Phoenix Renewables, won the technology innovation category told Voice of Nigeria that he desired to see his electric vehicles in different capital cities across the world.
Four states, Edo, Imo, Ogun and Borno picked up outstanding awards in various categories in the MSME space.
Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State, which won the best state in the policy support category said his administration ensured that policies to promote MSMEs across the state by creating MSME parks and by putting in place MSMEs funds.
Abiodun said the state government decided to support the “Adire” the popular tie-and-dye design, which is made in the state.
“We didn’t waste any time in identifying the “Adire” because that enterprise was struggling because some people from the far east were coming to steal our designs, to be creative in their countries and bring it back to sell to us; thereby depriving us of our rich cultural heritage.
“They took the job opportunities and of course the economic impact to our people.
“So when took office in 2019, we took a look at that and began to support them.”
He said that the MSMEs Clinic, which is organized by the Office of the Vice President to support small businesses by bringing them to registration and regulatory authorities assisted the state immensely, resulting in the growth of MSMEs in the state.
Speaking earlier, Nigeria’s Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mariam Katagum noted that Nigeria is a member of the World Trade Organization’s Informal Working Group on MSMEs launched at the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference in December 2017 in Argentina.
Pointing out that the objective of the group is to identify and address obstacles to Msme’s participation in international trade, Mrs Katagum called for international support for small businesses.
“MSMEs, more than ever before, need international support as they navigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, various conflicts around the world and the climate crises.
“This is because they are the hardest hit by the multiple shocks and at the same time play a critical role in bringing back a strong economy.”
Katagum highlighted the key efforts made by the Nigerian government, including the establishment of the National MSMEs Clinic; the shared facilities for MSMEs; the One-Stop-Shop and the MSMEs Survival Fund.