UNIDO Structured To Develop SMEs With Outstanding Ideas – Mr. Banjo

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Mr. Banjo said the Global Fintech innovation program supports entrepreneurs innovative ideas and transforms their fintech startups and SMEs.

Abuja, Nigeria – Mediaage NG News – Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are the bedrock of a thriving economy and job creation. They account for the majority of businesses globally and are important contributors to economic development. Yet, challenges facing SMEs in Nigeria and West Africa remain huge, some of which are access to funding, business support and capacity strengthening.

How can innovators be helped to formalize their businesses and have access to processes that will make their business more easy?

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This is one of the leading from the National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME) that propelled the recently concluded three day event for SMEs, innovators to meet with potential investors, in Abuja, the Nigerian capital.

Supported by key institutions like the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), Bank of Industry (BOI), Sterling One Foundation, and others, the event was organised with the aim of supporting West African SMEs and Innovators.

NASME supports entrepreneurs’ innovative ideas and according to the National Program Coordinator, Environment and Energy, UNIDO, Yemi Banjo, “it transforms their fintech startups and SMEs into investment, ready for the market and sellable”.

NASME is an organisation conceived by promoters of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the private sector and agencies of the Nigerian government to serve as the apex organization that will coordinate the activities of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) and also interact with local and foreign organizations whose services are vital to the development of MSMEs.

Making his presentation, Mr. Banjo spoke of an initiative, Global Fintech Innovation program, created by UNIDO and structured to develop SMEs and innovators with outstanding ideas.

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He said UNIDO which is a specialised agency of the United Nations with a mandate to promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation in developing countries and economies in transition, is for poverty reduction, inclusive globalisation and environmental sustainability. “We assist member states as a United Nations support group to sustainable energy, through application of renewable energy efficiency”, he disclosed.

Some of the sectors the global fintech program covers include green buildings, urban transportation, waste management, chemical management, renewable energy, energy efficiency, waste water, water management.

He said in ensuring the growth of SMEs globally, a supporting country provides the legal and regulatory framework, the regulation, the legislation, the guidelines and other tools to review and identify gaps and where these gaps are found, UNIDO comes up with recommendations and in partnership with the government, solutions to these gaps are provided.

Mr. Banjo said the program also aims at identifying innovations across the sectors mentioned above and help them to scale up in technology and the markets. “We have done this in few countries previously, now, we are doing it in Nigeria”, he said.

The e-government for the program he said is the Federal Ministry of Innovation, Science and Technology and the Rural Electrification Agency (REA), while it is also working with the private sector – Procreation Hub.

“For Nigeria, we have completed the first cohort, he continue.

“So, what we did is, put up a national call for proposals in these sectors for innovators to apply, where they will go through selection criteria. Relevant and qualified SMEs will be picked and we start the rigourous acceleration for them.

“We organised a national academy where brought all of them together across the country.

“The last product, we got our experts from Silicone Valley in the US. But, what we have also done is to build the capacity of a Nigerian innovation hub.

“City Hub which is currently ongoing is made of two academies, which we are particularly proud of that a Nigerian setup was able to do this, than bringing experts from outside the country.

“After the acceleration program, comes the competition, with renumeration and incentives. The next stage is handing them over to the Rural Electrification Agency for another sets of criteria with some other innovators and SMEs from other innovation hubs. Then, they qualify for scale up funding which is quite attractive and will help them upscale. So, there’s a lot of opportunities”, Mr. Banjo said.

He said UNIDO is implementing some projects in Nigeria and across Africa and added that presently, there’s an ongoing project with the Japanese government, led by Nigeria’s Ministry of Environment.

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