PIND’s Business Linkages program seeks to promote a business environment in which local small and medium sized enterprises in the Niger Delta can compete in domestic, regional and global markets and can contribute significantly to wealth and job creation in both the Niger Delta as well as nationally.
The Challenges Facing the Region’s Small Businesses
Small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) in the Niger Delta region face a host of challlenges that militate against their competitiveness and potential. Some of these include: poor technical and business, management skills, poor access to finance and weak access to market information, particularly large institutional buyers. We did our research, and learned that improving capacity among local SMEs is critical to developing an enabling environment in which markets can grow and thrive.
Enter our Business Linkages program. With this program, we are working to:
- Improve market access of small businesses. This means understanding the demand requirements of large buyers in viable growth markets (this could be anything from type, volume, quality and means of product and service delivery) and building the capacity of local enterprises to meet them. In some cases, it could also mean supporting the enterprises to expand and meet exisiting market opportunities open to them
- Strengthening the business support environment, which entails the development of capacity of business development service providers and facilitating access to finance for local SMEs.
- Establishing alliances, networks and partnerships to improve market access and to leverage funds. to reduce capacity building and upgrading costs for SMEs,to enable them address supply chain and other market opportunities.
We Provide the Technical Support Needed to Better Position Niger Delta Businesses
As part of work to make small businesses in the Niger Delta more competitive and profitable, PIND’s Business Linkages team trains business service providers (BSPs, as we like to call them) to improve the quality of support that small businesses in the Niger Delta receive. We train BSPs to ensure that their clients receive the best linkages to new markets, linkages to finance, business advisory services, and general business upgrading and training services. We have now trained two cycles of BSPs – in 2015 and 2016. These BSPs have worked to help small businesses access loans, provided business advisory services, trained businesses on record-keeping, established market linkages and linked businesses to assistance from the Technical Assistance Facility (TAF), which PIND co-funds to support the region’s small businesses.
We Link Businesses with the Support They Need to Increase their Profitability, Productivity and Income
Our BSPs are great, because they have been absolutely essential to improving SMEs’ access to capital. The Technical Assistance Fund (TAF), an initiative set up by PIND, provides technical support to small and medium-scale enterprises through PIND-trained business service providers and helps raise awareness of SMEs in the region on the benefits of using business service providers to bolster their profitability and efficiency. PIND also utilized the TAF instrument in 2016 to support some SMEs with funding constraints but whose activities have broader market system impact to upgrade their technologies, afford consulting services and improve working capital.
We signed a partnership agreement with Grofin in 2014 to recommend SMEs with viable business propositions to them for funding. We also started introducing and linking our amazing BSPs to Grofin a year after their training in 2016, and these BSPs took the lead in helping the small businesses they work access to finance through GroFin and other means. By the end of 2016, up to 11 SMEs were recommended to GroFin for funding by 2 of our BSPs. Four SMEs got funding from GroFin valued at ₦61,000,000 through the partnership in 2016, with the potential for more in 2017 and beyond. 2016 also saw TAF grants get processed and approved for eight SMEs.
How effective are our Business Service Providers?
A 2017 assessment of the impact of BSP support on eight benefitting SMEs from Delta, Imo and Ondo States shows an increase of NGN237,236,000 in SME sales, creating 337 jobs by June 2017
They have helped small businesses leverage NGN138.1 million in equity by Q2 2017, NGN38 million of which was leveraged by Q1 2017). They have also helped small businesses access loans worth N41 million.