Image credit: The Guardian Nigeria

The federal government has revealed plans to establish the Council for Small and Medium-scale Enterprises (SMEs) to support Nigeria’s 40 million small businesses.

This initiative was revealed  during the graduation ceremony of 5,300 SMBs from Google’s Hustle Academy in Abuja, attended by Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Job Creation and SMEs, Adekunle Johnson who emphasised the need for the SME Council while highlighting the substantial contributions of small businesses to the Nigerian economy. 

He stressed the critical support required for SMEs, especially, in the current landscape. Commending Google’s efforts, he pledged the government’s backing for the technology firm’s initiatives

The director general of SMEDAN, Charles Odii, emphasised that SMEs are the backbone of any economy, generating 80 per cent of jobs, with 72 per cent led by women aged 20 to 60. He emphasised the imperative to support small businesses, noting extensive assistance provided by SMEDAN, NITDA, LSETF, and the Office of the Vice President.

Google’s Olumide Balogun highlighted the resilience of the Hustle Academy graduates, picked across Nigeria’s six geopolitical zones. He acknowledged the challenges faced by SMEs due to inflation, forex instability, rising costs, and insecurity, noting a significant funding gap for several million SMEs in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Referencing IMF data, Balogun stressed the need for skill enhancement among African small businesses to improve access to funding. Google aims to offer tech skills to support their growth amidst various economic challenges.

Google’s head of Brand and Reputation, Aderemi Mojolaoluwa detailed the meticulous selection process for 15 Nigerian SMEs from the Hustle Academy to receive a N75 million grant. She highlighted Google’s primary goal of fostering thriving businesses in Nigeria.