Whereas many Nigerians strike President Muhammadu Buhari for creating hardship through alleged harsh policies such as ban on 41 items, a female expert rather wants more of the ‘rice treatment’, saying it is the only way Nigeria would be saved.
Fayo Williams, a business development expert and a certified master-trainer from the International Labour Organization (ILO), has therefore urged the federal government to replicate its policy on rice in other imported products.
Williams, who is the CEO of Simply Exponential Consult Limited, said this in Port Harcourt last weekend during a training section organised by NECA’s Network of Entrepreneurial Women (NNEW) and Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) for 15 women who run small ventures. NECA is short for the Nigeerian Employers Consultative Association.
Williams said stopping influx of many other goods would not only cut down unemployment but would take the country’s Gross domestic Product (GDP) skywards.
The federal government has for more than two years banned the importation of rice into the country. It has also encouraged and supported local farmers to boost local production.
“The rice policy, for instance, is trying to give us home-grown rice to feed our populace rather than the imported sacks of rice we used to bring from a whole lot of other countries. So if we can replicate this kind of policy in toothpick, in hospitality industry and so many areas, we can have our own people involved in generating more revenue even within the country, so that our GDP can grow and then the unemployment rate will go down and our economic well-being will improve,” Williams said.
She continued: “We are familiar with the fact that SMEs provide up to 90 per cent of employment in the nation. Government cannot really give the teeming population that employment. But if we empower SMEs to start providing goods and services that are consumed by a nation of 180 million (people), we would have a greater number of people in gainful employment.
“The employment statistics right now is pretty worrisome. We have up to about 30% unemployment rate and we believe that if more entrepreneurs are encouraged in this way to set up cottage industries and to provide services, we would have replacement for a lot of things we used to import.”
Williams, who, at the training in Port Harcourt, talked about the importance of having a business plan, oversaw a session on direct and indirect costing in business. She told participants that, to attract funding, they must register their businesses and they must write and work with a feasible business plan.
“We have a lot of intervention funds now – like Bank of Industry (BIO) funds and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) funds. All these funds are available for SMEs to access only if they have proper planning in place and they can show evidence in a business plan, good record keeping and being bankable,” she said.