An NGO, the Young CEO Initiative, has urged Federal Government to improve support to young entrepreneurs and create the enabling environment that would enable the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to grow sustainably.
The Founder of the initiative, Aigbe Omoregie, made the call at a media briefing in Lagos State.
The Young CEO Initiative is a platform that provides startups access to mentorship, grants and networking opportunities.
This is to help them scale up their businesses and command authority in their respective sectors.
Omoregie said that the harsh economic situation in the country was making it difficult for many young entrepreneurs to survive in business, despite various interventions from the government and private investors.
He said that the organisation with over 30,000 memberships had lost some of its promising members due to inability to fund their businesses.
“Some of these entrepreneurs have shut down production; some have downsized, while some of them have succumbed to the lure of irregular migration, because their businesses are barely functioning.
“We find it difficult accessing credit facilities from the banks, which leaves us at the mercy of smaller financial homes, who give us facilities at a very ridiculous interest rates that eventually eliminate the purpose of growth,” he said.
Omoregie said that MSMEs with over 37 million players contribute about 54 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The founder of the initiative said that the sector which employed over 59 million Nigerians should not be allowed to collapse.
“We, therefore, appeal to government, as a matter of urgency, to come to our aid before the businesses of the youths who serve as role model collapses.
“This should be done by introducing programmes and initiatives where loans are easily accessible to entrepreneurs at low interest rates within the shortest period of time,” he said.
Omoregie urged development finance institutions to simplify their loans and disbursement procedures toward reducing the untold stress being faced by young entrepreneurs who try to access their facilities.
Also, Abiodun Folawiyo, the Managing Director, Shoespeed, said that funding was the major challenge confronting many players in the sector.
Folawiyo said that he survived the 15 years of his company’s operation through soft loans from family and friends.
He urged the government to gear efforts toward improving the ease of doing business by spurring more economic activities and attracting more foreign investors.
In her remarks, Chioma Ogbu, the Managing Director of Redbutton, urged government to improve support to the creative industry.
Ogbu also urged the government to leverage upon the ingenious ideas of many young entrepreneurs in the industry to boost the nation’s economy.