By; BAYO AKAMO, Ibadan
South West stakeholders consultative forum on ‘Ease of Doing Business’ over the weekend alerted that over N2billion worth of loans given to the Small and Medium Business Enterprises (SMEs) in the region was yet to be repaid.
The stakeholders raised the alarm during a forum held at Owu Crown Hotel, Ibadan organised by Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN Commission) in partnership with Department for International Development (DFID).
According to the stake holders, the non repayment of the over N2billion loan is presently affecting the spread of the gesture to others interested in the loan.
Emphasizing the importance of small and medium businesses drive to development globally, the stakeholders noted that the laws on doing businesses in Nigeria and the Southwest are cumbersome and burdensome on SMEs making it difficult for them to thrive.
The stakeholders also urged government to assist small and medium business enterprises in accessing loans from banks, saying the “unkind Bank policies kill business initiatives and undermine development”.
In a chat with newsmen, the Staff Analyst at DAWN commission, Mr Adetayo Adeleke-Adedoyin said stakeholders have roles to play in identifying challenges and proffering solutions to the challenges in other to drive development in the zone,saying,Nigeria was ranked 169 out of 190 countries in 2016 on ease of doing business which forced the federal government to set up presidential committee to unravel challenges of doing business in Nigeria.
Adeleke-Adedoyin pointed out that if the Southwest and Southeast could get it right on ease of doing business, “development in Nigeria will be fast-tracked and other zones will enjoy the spiral effects of this”.
In his remark,Mr Vincent Attah of Development Initiative Network stated that existing policies and framework for doing business did not favour the interests of small and medium enterprises as lack of this kills business dreams and undermine development.
“These laws did not incorporate the interests of small and medium enterprises which is making the small and medium enterprises to find it difficult to thrive. It is only for comprised the private sectors, civil society organisations, government agencies and the security agencies identified policies”he said.
Speaking at the Forum, Mr Temitope Richard-Banji of LEAP Africa declared that SMEs is facing stringent conditions arising from government policies and lack of financial literacy education on the part of small business owners.
“It is really challenging doing business in Nigeria and the southwest Nigeria. Government policy is not friendly. Everybody is talking about agriculture but the farmers do not have access to the funds. The banks ask for collateral. How will somebody who is just trying to start business meet the requirements that favour only established companies? he said.
Mr Richard-Banji added: “Also NAFDAC registration requirements for start-up businesses in Nigeria need to be reviewed. If the policies are reviewed or treated on a case-by-case basis, it will ease doing business in southwest Nigeria”.
While calling for flexible policies that will recognise business interests on case-by-case basis to encourage development of business initiatives and drive development in the zone, he said “there is need for financial literacy education. People are doing business because they have money but they lack business plan. Human capital development is important for businesses that want to scale up.”