Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) has awarded practising licences to 116 qualified Business Development Service Providers (BDSPs).
Charles Odii, director-general of SMEDAN, made this announcement during the BDSP licencing award ceremony organised by the agency on Wednesday in Lagos.
Mr Odii stated that the practising licences would allow BDSPs to provide quality service delivery to micro, small, and medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) in the country.
The BDSPs’ certification was a collaboration with the Kaduna Business School and the Enterprise Development Centre, Pan Atlantic University.
BDSPs are Nigerians from the entrepreneurial ecosystem across the country who have met the requirements to practice their profession in a particular jurisdiction. This typically involves completing a certain amount of education and training, passing an exam, and maintaining good moral standing.
Mr Odii said, “Today is a very significant day for us at the agency because we have awarded licenses to business development service providers, which is vital in response to the challenges faced by small businesses in Nigeria.
“Many of them encounter various problems, similar to how doctors are needed to attend to sick patients. A number of certified individuals have undergone a rigorous training process at the Enterprise Development Centre and Kaduna Business School. They have obtained certification, and their licences now make them our eyes and ears all over Nigeria.
“Their current role is to enter the market and help small businesses thrive.”
The SMEDAN boss also highlighted that one of the biggest problems faced by small businesses in Nigeria is the lack of a proper business structure, which has hindered their access to funding.
“In an effort to ensure credible access to more affordable finance for MSMEs in Nigeria, the agency is partnering with an NGO, The African Centre for Global Entrepreneurial Leadership.
“This is to implement the Leadership Entrepreneurial Game Show, where successful participants will be awarded N5 million worth of grants and tools.
“The game show is ongoing, and all existing and potential entrepreneurs are encouraged to register at www.legs.afrca,” he said.
Mr Odii hinted that the agency was partnering with selected banks to implement the matching fund programme for MSMEs to increase access to finance.
This intervention, he said, delivers credit as a promotional mechanism to enhance enterprise output, competitiveness, and job creation.
According to him, prospective beneficiaries can have access to loans ranging from N500 million to N2.5 million.
Mr Odii urged all suitable qualified MSMEs in the agribusiness sub-sector to apply through the SMEDAN website www.smedan.gov.ng.
Dahiru Sani, Rector of Kaduna Business School, said that the primary responsibility of the BDSPs would be to support MSMEs in terms of how they would respond to the recent policy issues’ shocks.
Mr Sani, also a member of the national steering committee for the accreditation and certification of BDSPs in Nigeria, said, “Our expectations now are that they are going to provide us with what we call a buffer or mechanical shock absorber for the MSMEs.
“They will survey their ecosystem, identify the challenges faced, and determine the kind of interventions required. Sometimes it’s financial, emotional resilience, technology support, access to markets, and the quality of people within the system.
“Sometimes it involves shifting the market’s focus from Nigeria to outside the country or creating a broader portfolio where earnings can be in different currencies,” Mr Sani said.