The First lady of Lagos State, Dr. Adejoke Sanwo-Olu (left); Secretary to the State Government, Mrs. Folashade Jaji (Centre) and Commissioner for Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives, Dr. Lola Akande at the event.

The Lagos State Commissioner for Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives, Dr. Lola Akande, on Wednesday said the state government is now set to launch its Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) E- Commerce Hub to enhance online trading.

Akande, who said this at the opening ceremony of the 5th edition of the Lagos State Micro, Medium and Small Enterprises (MSME) Exclusive Fair in Ikeja, Lagos, said the E-Commerce Hub was part of the current administration’s initiative at enhancing capacity building for MSMEs operators in the State

The theme of the Fair is: “MSMEs in the Time of COVID-19: Survival Strategies to Beat the Odds”.

According to her, the E- Commerce Hub would expose MSMEs to various market opportunities, financial linkages, and provide necessary advice on innovative approach for businesses, saying that the state government was sensitive and emphatic to the enormous unprecedented challenges faced by businesses in Nigeria.

Akande stated that as such, it had become imperative for the state to continually provide support to entrepreneurs and business owners to mitigate the challenges through consistent marketing support activities such as this exclusive trade fair.

Dr. Lola Akande and Dr. Adejoke Sanwo-Olu during exhibition at the fair

“The Lagos MSME Fair is an undeniable evidence of the current Administration’s unshaken dedication to the continuous growth of the MSME sector in Lagos State. According to statistics, the sector provides about 48 per cent of the Gross Domestic  Product (GDP)of the Nigeria and accounts for 96 per cent of businesses.

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“Lagos has the highest number of MSMEs (11,663) and 3,224,324 micro-enterprises. The administration of Governor, Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu has been tremendously supportive to the development of MSMEs in the State.

“This includes his continuous support and mandate to the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund to provide affordable loans to MSMES at a reduced interest rate among other initiatives to cushion the effect of COVID-19 on the state. The State Government in collaboration with Federal Government, through the office of the Vice President has recently commissioned Eko MSMEs Fashion Hub 1.

“The hub is equipped with modern industrial machine and equipment meant to take fashion industry to the next level in meeting up with international standard. Also an industrial estate is on-going at Imota Light Industrial Estate, Ikorodu to provide work spaces for our small-scale industrialists in the Food and Beverages sector with modern facilities within the industrial estate.,” he said.

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“In addition, the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives also sponsors yearly an ample number of MSMEs operators in the State to Lagos  Chamber of Commerce and Industry )LCCI) organized International Trade Fair free of charge.

“As a government passionate about the growth of the MSME sector, we will therefore continue to be more pragmatic and receptive to initiatives that would foster growth, development and sustainability of MSMEs. All of which are towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 in the State,” she said.

Speaking, Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, whose speech was read by the Secretary to the State Government, SSG, Folashade Jaji said unarguably, the MSME sector is the backbone of the Nigerian economy and a foremost catalyst of the state’s industrialisation drive, responsible for production and value-addition in manufacturing, trade and commercial services.

“Our MSMEs indeed, have contributed significantly to not only our economic regeneration, but also to employment and wealth creation, poverty alleviation and qualitative standard of living.

“The theme of this year’s fair, ”MSME in the Time of COVID-19: Survival Strategies to Beat the Odds”, is apt and timely. I cannot agree less with the intent and purpose of the theme, given the importance and role of MSMEs can play as the springboard for businesses to start thinking more strategically with technology and digital capabilities being the key drivers,” he said.

Dr. Adejoke Sanwo-Olu at the event

Sanwo-Olu said over the next six days and subsequently too, operators of MSMEs in the state must step up their efforts in the area of public-private collaboration aimed at not only showcasing Made-in-Lagos products and services, but also developing programmes that would intensify efforts to drive opportunities to foster growth of the MSME sector and diversifying our overall economy.

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Mrs Getrude Akhimein, Chairman, Nigerian Association of Small Scale Industrialist (NASSI) appealed for more tax and levy waivers for MSMEs to reduce the hardships that had plagued homes due to the pandemic.

Akhimien said the COVID-19 pandemic would go into history books as the most devastating man made disaster that afflicted humanity in this century.

She said the decision of the government to cancel the payment of tax for MSMEs with a turnover of under N25 million would enable businesses reinvest profits therefore leading to expansion and wealth creation.