Small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) in the Niger Delta region face many key constraints to their competitiveness and potential, some of which include poor technical and business management skills, poor access to finance and weak access to market information, particularly large institutional buyers. Building capacity among local SMEs is therefore critical to developing an enabling environment in which markets can grow and thrive.
As part of our Business Linkages Initiative which seeks to facilitate the upgrading of technical and management capacity of small companies in the Niger Delta in order to increase their competitive participation in the procurement programs of large companies, retails chains and other institutional buyers operating in the region, our Small Business Development and Linkages Initiative was designed to identify and facilitate new linkages opportunities for SMEs leading to increased sales and growth. It is aimed at supporting SMEs in viable sectors and helping them to grow through linkages to markets, finance and capacity building, leading to increase in employment and income and broader economic development in the Niger Delta. The Small Business Development and Linkages Initiative is based on thorough diagnostics to identify specific market opportunities and the related constraints impeding the SMEs ability to competitively address the opportunities, and then facilitating targeted customized capacity building activities that would enable them to exploit the opportunities.
The objectives of this Initiative are as follows:
- Identify new SMEs with market opportunities,
- Conduct assessments on the SMEs to identify their constraints and then help them to address the identified opportunities.
- Facilitate access to finance for these SMEs
So far, we have identified and conducted assessments on 7 SMEs with clear linkages opportunities in Delta State. These SMEs are mainly into poultry, bakery and catering, waste management, construction and general supplies. In partnership with Wider Perspectives, one of our Linkages facilitators, we identified and facilitated a linkage meeting between the Etche Cooperative Development Union (an umbrella body of Agro-allied SMEs in Etche Rivers State) and an association of large buyers known as Association of Fast Food and Confectioners of Nigeria (AFCON) Port Harcourt. Efforts are ongoing to get both parties to sign an MOU.
We also supported providential farms and integrated Products Limited to set up egg production unit on the farm. We provided the MD with the case study required to invest in egg production and linked them to TSF Integrated Farms for purchase of birds