By Shola Olushola
TO support the over 40 million small businesses in Nigeria, the Federal Government is on the verge of inaugurating Council for Small and Medium scale Enterprises in Nigeria (SMEs).
This was revealed yesterday in Abuja by the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Job Creations and SMEs, Tola Adekunle-Johnson, at the graduation of 5,300 SMBs across Africa from Google’s Hustle Academy. This graduation marks a continuation of the programme’s impact, with over 10,300 entrepreneurs having participated since its inception in 2022 and 4400 from Nigeria.
The Hustle Academy programme, designed to address specific challenges faced by SMBs in Africa, offers practical skills and resources to help these businesses grow.
Adekunle-Johnson said the SME Council was necessary, going by the significant contributions of small businesses to the Nigerian economy, stressing that SMEs need huge support to thrive, especially now.
While appreciating the efforts of Google, the SSA on Job Creations and SMEs said the FG will support what the technology firm is doing.
Corroborating the need to support SMEs, the Director- General, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), Charles Odii, said SMEs are life wire of any economy.
Odii disclosed that the likes of MTN, Google and other multinationals are just four per cent of the businesses in the country, while the rest 96 per cent are small businesses doing so much.
He said the SMBs created 80 per cent of the jobs in the economy and about 72 per cent of such businesses are led by women within the age range of 20 to 60 years.
Odii stressed that small businesses must be supported, disclosing that SMEDAN, Office of VP, National Information Technology Development Association (NITDA), Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) have been providing massive support.
On his part, the Google West Africa, Country Director, Olumide Balogun, said graduands from the Hustle Academy were picked across the six geo-political zones of Nigeria.
“The passion and resilience shown by these SMBs are truly inspiring. The Hustle Academy is a testament to what focused training and resources can achieve. We are not just celebrating their graduation today; we are recognizing their potential to reshape and invigorate the Nigerian business landscape,” he stated.
Balogun, who said of the over 10, 000 SMEs, about 4,400 were from Nigeria, noted that small businesses remained the life blood of any economy. He said inflation, forex instability, cost of living, insecurity among others have compounded issues facing small businesses in the country.
Referencing IMF, Balogun who said there are several million SMEs in SSA with a $400 billion funding gaps, noted that small businesses in Africa need required skills to boost access to funding, “and Google is ready to provide the tech skills to support their growth.”
Google, Head, Brand and Reputation, MojolaOluwa Aderemi-Makinde, said painstaking measures were employed in selecting 15 of the Nigerian SMEs from the Hustle Academy for the N75 million grant.
She said they were selected from 100,000 that was pruned down to 30 and from 30 to the 15 that emerged top in the academy, stressing that the bottomline for Google was to see that businesses thrive and Nigeria as well.
Founder of Wauley Projects Limited, Femi Bolaji, a graduate from Nigeria and one of the 15 fund recipients, commented, “The Hustle Academy has equipped us with vital business knowledge, and being selected for the fund is a significant boost that will propel our business forward.”
The graduates and fund recipients represent a diverse array of industries, each bringing a unique story and vision for the future.