To further affirm its commitment to advancing the Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) sector for economic growth, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) Investment and Technology Promotion Office (ITPO) Nigeria has partnered the Federal Government, Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME), Sterling One Foundation and other stakeholders for the West African SMEs Exhibition in Abuja.
With the theme, “MSMEs 4.0: Enhancing Quality, Productivity, Competitiveness, Resilience, and Sustainability in an Era of Digital Transformation”, the exhibition focused on business support for West African SMEs in the Renewable, Digital and Greentech spaces with high growth potential.
UNIDO ITPO and partners aimed to mobilize and promote bankable and impactful investments and the transfer of green technologies from industrialized countries towards Nigeria and select AfCFTA countries and economies in transition, with a focus on SMEs.
At the West Africa SMEs Exhibition, UNIDO ITPO aimed to connect SMEs with business partners, business development organizations, and international industry specialists; promote sustainable technologies relevant for improving local investment opportunities. It is also designed to harness the potential of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) by promoting trade, fostering economic development, and creating opportunities for businesses across West Africa.
Speaking at the event, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Doris Anite, represented by the Director-General, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), Charles Odii, commended the organizers and expressed the government’s commitment to establish a technology incubation hub in Abuja.
According to her, the initiative aims to generate over one million jobs across various economic sectors in the country.
“These initiatives are a testament to our commitment to fostering entrepreneurship, creating employment opportunities, and significantly contributing to the growth of our nation’s economy,” she said.
Head of UNIDO ITPO, Nigeria, Ms. Abimbola Olufore, appreciated all the delegates who came from across the sub-region and emphasized that the exhibition is in alignment with UNIDO’s mandate to connect investors and technology providers to create synergies and accelerate solutions for sustainable development; connect companies and investment projects with investors and technology providers. She added that her organization will continue supporting innovative SMEs working with partners like NASME as this will be highly instrumental to building the nation’s economy sustainably.
Also speaking, the Chief Executive Officer of Sterling One Foundation, Olapeju Ibekwe, commended the leadership of UNIDO ITPO for the vision to provide and improve sustainable funding opportunities for SMEs and MSMEs in the country with focus on green and clean technology.
She noted that as a country, we need more forward-thinking organizations with service-oriented mindsets to facilitate the kind of change that we desire across Nigeria. She stressed that her Foundation was proud to partner with UNIDO ITPO, NASME and other organizations on the summit and she believes economies do better when businesses that are at the bottom of the ladder are properly supported.
President and Chairman Governing Council of NASME, Dr Abdulrashid Yerima, noted that the goal of the exhibition was to invite MSMEs in technology to meet with investors, grant providers and financial institutions. According to him, the exhibition also provided a platform for them to engage and identify businesses they want to be supported.