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Heritage Bank CEO calls for implementation of vision 2020 SME blueprint to tackle growing unemployment

Ifie Sekibo

The Managing Director of Heritage Bank, Mr. Ifie Sekibo has called on the government to ensure seamless implementation of the blueprint developed by the vision 2020 National Technical Working Group on SMEs as an efficient strategy to fast track the process of curtailing the growing unemployment rate in the country.

According to the Heritage Bank helmsman, all stakeholders in the nation’s economic sphere, especially the SME sector, must join hands in creating and sustaining an active SME revitalization drive through the establishment of a solid framework supported by clearly articulated government policy.

“The current high rate of unemployment in the country requires all stakeholders to work together in ensuring the quick revitalization of the SME sector as the primary source of creating jobs and fostering entrepreneurship among the youths. The Vision 2020 National Technical Working Group on SMEs has developed a blueprint for boosting SMEs and the government needs to do all within its power to bring up the fine ideas in the blueprint for implementation”.

“SMEs enhance competition and entrepreneurship, and their proper development has a positive impact on innovation and productivity growth which, in turn, enhances macro-economic stability. Therefore, developing the SME sector is one urgent task that requires concerted effort from all stakeholders”.

Sekibo noted that although SMEs are a vital national economic growth engine contributing to vital economic indicators like Employment Generation and GDP with about 70 percent of the rural population being active in formal and informal SME sectors, a study of the sector has shown that growth possibilities are hampered seriously as significantly low number of startups who apply for medium-longer term financing actually succeed.

He attributed the main challenge facing SME promoters in the country to limited access to appropriate capacity building opportunities and education which, in turn, lead to other growth-limiting impediments such as inadequate financial record keeping, poor managerial skills, lack of access to international markets, inability to provide collateral and poor access to infrastructure.

He advised Small and Medium Enterprises in the country to focus greatly on restructuring and innovation in order to access the unfolding opportunities for growth and development in the economic landscape.

According to him, “The Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Development Fund which provides an exit window for the MSME schemes and programmes currently implemented by the Central Bank is one of the new opportunities for SMEs in the country to access wholesale funding requirements. It offers a relatively more sustainable approach to the provision of credit and guaranteed advisory services to the specialized needs of the MSME sector”.

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