CHIDI ASONYE writes that a three day workshop tagged: Enyimba Business Fair has been flagged off in Aba, Abia state with a call on stakeholders in the Small Medium Scale Enterprise (SMEs) to continue to showcase the ingenuity of Abia citizens in that sector.
The fair put together by the state Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises Development (MSMED) in conjunction with Zenith Bank Plc, Virtual Xchange (Fashion One) among other partners, was aimed at showcasing the great potentials and investment opportunities of SMEs in the state.
Declaring the Fair Open the state governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu described the fair as an investment and exhibition forum that would give support to the Micro, Small and Medium scale Enterprise (SMEs) and make them functional in a sustainable manner that would continue to encourage socio- economic growth , poverty reduction, wealth creation and job creation among others.
Dr. Ikpeazu reemphasized the need for building the capacity of the MSMEs in view of their important roles as key economic and development drivers as a result of growing economic uncertainties and rising unemployment especially among the youths.
He described the commercial city as not only the commercial and industrial hub of Abia State but also the entrepreneurial and SMEs capital of Nigeria even as he stated that it was only natural and appropriate for an event of such nature and concentration to be held in Aba, widely acclaimed as the “Japan of Africa”.
Represented by his deputy, Sir Ude Oko Chukwu, the governor said that Aba remained one of the largest business incubation cities in Africa and has been representing Made in Nigeria in diverse fields through the numerous MSMEs operating at different levels and in several sectors ranging from leather works. garments, metal fabrications, services, repairs, maintenance.
He lauded the MSMES for providing the engine room of the massive economic activities that fuel the socio- economic activities of Aba particularly in the provision of jobs for the residents.
While expressing delight on the rising growth on the support for Made in Nigeria goods and products, Dr Ikpeazu said that as a state policy his government has put the promotion of Made in Aba goods in the front burner as one of the strategic enablers to drive the economic development of the state and her citizenry assuring that Aba must remain the anchor of any economic development or strategic plan in order to maximise its entrepreneurial excellency, exploit and enhance its potentials.
The Abia Chief executive said that the setting up of Abia State Marketing and Quality Assurance Board in 2015 has the mandate to ensure standardization of Made in Aba goods and place it in global markets.
The setting up of Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprise Development ( MSMED) was a major step towards ensuring that SMEs in the state are given support to close the unemployment gap, empower the youth, reduce poverty and enhancing the Gross Domestic Products of the state, the governor said.
One the MSMEs one stop- shop at the Abia Investment House Umuahia, he described it as one of the action plans of his government to encourage and improve Ease of Doing Business for MDAs by providing veritable platform for all Federal MDAs to interface with entrepreneurs, post or assign Desk Officers for purposes of responding to issues and enquiries around MSMEs development in Abia and the citizenry maximally benefit from the entrepreneurial development plan of the government
Dr Ikpeazu equally disclosed that his administration signed a N1b SME development matching fund agreement with the Bank of Industry (BOI) in 2016 with the state providing N500m counterpart fund for lending to entrepreneur and SMEs and the feat has gone a long way in galvanizing economic activities in the state.
He restated hope of funding facility with the African Development Bank especially tied to the rehabilitation of Port Harcourt road Aba stating that government recognizes and acknowledges the strategic importance of Port Harcourt Road to the economic development of Enyimba city in particular and Abia in general.
Dr Ikpeazu vowed that no stone would be left unturned to ensure the fixation of road and assured that the reconstruction of Faulks Road by Setraco construction company PLC would soon be completed to enhance unhindered access to Ariaria international market and enhanced economic activities in the market.