Being an open letter to the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osibanjo.
Dear Mr. Vice President,
I commend the good work of your administration since assumption of office. Your passion to revive our economy is without a doubt especially with your various initiatives like the N-Power, SME and Enterprise development targeted at job creation, poverty alleviation and economic growth.
It is premise on this, that I am bemused that a major job creation and enterprise development initiative in the South-South and across the country is about to be shut down by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) the arm of government that should be supporting this program without wavering given the socio economy impact of the program.
I am convinced that you are unaware of the heart breaking actions and decision to shut down the South-South Entrepreneurship Development Centre (SSEDC) that has created over 10,000 jobs and empower existing businesses to upscale. This is why I am bringing it to your attention perhaps as the head of economic management team of the country and the father of many youths, would stop this action that would lead to further unemployment, loss of jobs, increase hardship and poverty and worsen livelihood and the ease of doing business.
It is also very clear that SME Proliferation is one of the solutions highlighted as catalyst in the economic recovery and growth plan (ERGP) as proposed by your economic management team. You also championed the implementation of SME Clinics in bid of harnessing the ease of doing business in Nigeria to encourage start-ups and expansion, formalize shadow businesses, and standardize businesses for consumption and export and so much to attract investors.
WHY IS THE CENTRAL BANK OF NIGERIA (CBN) SHUTTING DOWN THE SOUTH-SOUTH ENTREPRENEURSHIP DEVELOPMENT CENTER (SSEDC) AND EDC’S IN OTHER REGIONS GIVEN THE IMPACT OF THE PROGRAM AND ITS ROLE IN ACHEVEING ERGP AND THIS ADMINISTRATION’S VISION?
Permit me Sir, to re-echo the mandate of EDC, the SSEDC is saddled with the mandate of raising entrepreneurs with a cause; ensure participants imbibe entrepreneurial skills and competencies required to start up or sustainably manage and grow a small to medium sized enterprise, assist participants to translate ideas into commercially viable business model, and develop actionable and bankable business plans, support certified participants to develop a strong entrepreneurship ecosystem that helps them actualize their aspiration in starting and expanding their enterprise.
The EDC started in 2008 in south west, North West and south east geopolitical zones, partnering with private sector organization as implementing agencies. CBN expanded the scope of the program due to its impact and achievements in 2013 with additional EDCS in South-South, North East and North Central zones and remodeled the program and its curriculum, to improve the outcomes of successful enterprise start up, existing enterprise expansion and growth and job creation.
The program is designed based on a world class curriculum in terms of content, delivery methodology and schedule. It focuses on re-orienting individuals imbibe mind-set and behaviour for entrepreneurial thinking, and develop business and leadership skills to succeed in their enterprise. Participants ranges from age 18 and above.
Mr. Vice President, this program is a huge success and therefore it is surprising that the CBN is thinking about shutting it down. Even if CBN was playing ‘April fool’ with this program in Nigeria, the EDC has become the beckon of hope and liberation for the people and economy of this country and thus should be institutionalized, constitutionalized and crystallized as one of the enablers of human capacity development and economic growth in the Nigeria.
Below are the results and achievements of South – South EDC only amongst other EDC’S from April 2013 – September 2017.
|2||BUSINESS CREATED AND
|4||NUMBER OF PARTICIPANTS
|5||TOTAL VALUE OF FUNDS
|6||NUMBER OF PARTICIPANTS
|7||SME PARTNERS NETWORK||729|
STATE DISTRIBUTION OF PARTICIPANTS TRAINED FROM APRIL 2013 TO SEPTEMBER 2017
|1||CROSS RIVER STATE||7,589|
|2||AKWA IBOM STATE||1,102|
Mr. Vice President, our first point of impact at the centre within our participants was mind-set shift based on the quality of module contents, engagement, facilitators and delivery methodology. We have tones of testimonials from the participants to back up this claim and results from our regular monitoring and evaluation exercise.
Below are a few results of socio economic impacts.
|1||FUND ACCESSED||3,828||1,207 out of 3,828 were able to access funds from equity and friends and family without waiting on the governments and
financial institute to provide capital for them. New Thinking! Obtained from our mantra: Think Big and Start Small
|4,260||30% of 4,260 came from agriculture sector, 34% from trading, 11% from service and others within different sectors. Every participants must produce a biz plan and thus participants have roadmap for their businesses. Also this result shows Nigeria is shifting from service and consuming nation to producing.|
|3||JOB CREATION||11,054||Our report showed that every newly established business created at least 2 jobs. This shows the potentials of the EDC in job creation drive of the government.|
|4||IMPACT ON FAMILY
|11,401||Out of 1,487 participants surveyed, 1048 responded to the question. There was increase in the number of breadwinners from 638 to 875, while the number of supportive reduced from197 to 87. The number of dependents also reduced to 86 from 213. This will automatically shorten the process of becoming a bread winner in the society if it continuous.|
|5||WIDER COMMUNITY||11,401||Provide jobs to previously unemployed, improve economic activities in the community, facilitate access to funding and market for participants and create linkages with CAC, NAFDAC, NEPC etc.|
Your Excellency Sir, above is just an excerpt of the socio-economic impacts of the EDC in the lives and communities of beneficiaries of this program. Why does CBN want to shut down people’s lives, economic activities in communities and increase their sufferings in our nation?
Let me also remind you Sir, of your epochal visit to Calabar as the acting president to inaugurate SME Clinic, 90% of the exhibitors at the event are products of the centre. You were amazed at the level of creativity and innovation displayed for your perusal and endorsement at that program. Remember the 9 year old Managing Director Miss Christine and her 11 year old sister as member of her team at the exhibition ground. Imagine the height of confidence and productivity enshrine upon them as a result of their engagement with the EDC through the “Kids Can” Initiative.
No one changes a winning team. EDC is a winning program for our national development and growth. Shutting down this program will result in worsening our present economic situation and increase hardship upon the citizens. As a concerned Nigerian I don’t believe that there is any other solution model than the EDC at this critical point in time and even the best intention of the CBN Governor if there is any, will do us more harm than good.
- Shutting down this program especially in the Niger Delta region means relegating a few young people of south – south to poverty and hardship and thus militancy and thuggery may become the lifeline of survival and improving livelihood which in return will increase crime and impede economic growth.
- Shutting down this program will mean shutting SMEs and Entrepreneurs Manufacturing organization. Nigeria is an entrepreneurial nation and requires such program to awaken the innate ability of Nigerians. How does the federal government intend to proliferate SMES as stated in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan?
- We are discussing diversification of our economy and our report shows that through this program Nigerians are beginning to embrace and see opportunity in other sectors of the economy. 30% from Agriculture. 34% from trading etc. is beckon of hope for more people to see dignity in farming, processing and trading rather than wait for a job in oil and gas sector.
- Statistics shows that 90% percent of businesses fail in the first 5 years. This was as a result of lack of entrepreneurship training, post training technical support and financial literacy. If this program is shut down, we shall record massive failure of businesses and programs like YouWin Connect amongst others. The EDC exposed our participants to financial literacy, customer service, business development and planning and human resource management. Also government will spend more money in hiring consultants to implement entrepreneurship development program in the nation in the bid of achieving SME Proliferation drive or waste time in starting a new program.
- EDC also serves as a development framework for international development agencies to partner with in implementing sustainable development programs and achieving SDG in Nigeria. For example EDC partnership with CUSO International in Cross River State.
The largest economy in Africa needs this program to retain her position and supported, not just by CBN but other institutions who understands the dynamics and role of SMEs in economic growth. On behalf of all of us who have benefited from this program, I humbly request you as our father to intervene to stop CBN from shutting down this program.
Sir, May I use this opportunity to also request that all stakeholders including the host Governor H.E
Senator Ben Ayade, Senator Gershom Bassey (senator of the host senatorial district), including the Chairman of Senate committee on Finance who is also a senator from Cross River State to stand up to the occasion and work with you to ensure that the program is renewed and given upmost support for SMEs.
I also call on the senate president to mobilize the appropriate support to ensure the program does not go into extinct. I also call on the minister of finance and minister of labor to consider this matter, on the number of jobs that would be lost across the nation and its impact on the people.
Your Excellency, I thank you for your great work and kind intervention on this matter. May the good Lord continue to give you wisdom to lead the affairs of our economy and country at large.
Kindly be assured of our deepest appreciation Sir.
Mr. Great Ogban is an Entrepreneurship Development Expert and Advocate and writes from Calabar, the Cross River State Capital.