In a bid to boost the capacity of cottage industry in the country, the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) has reaffirmed it’s commitment to ensuring that Small and Medium Enterprises (SMES) are given the necessary assistance to grow and impact more significantly on the Nigerian economy.
Speaking at the weekend while inspecting the facility of Mina Stones, an indigenous gemstones company in Abuja, the Executive Director of NEPC, Segun Awolowo said the Council has strategically developed initiatives to support and help grow SMES in the country.
Awolowo explained that in order for the Council to render significant assistance, “We develop the Export Development Fund (EDF) targeting the growth of MSME’S in the country”.
He further explained that the Fund allows pre-shipment incentives to SMES in the Nigeria. “The Pre-shipment incentives we are offering, we have never done it before in the history of NEPC, rather we focused on the post-shipment incentives which means that support was only available for big and large companies “.
“But with the Export Development Fund, we are going to be able to support small businesses like the Mina Stones in training, capacity building and access to finance at very low interest rates”.
Awolowo commended Mina Stones for starting small. “You are using gem stones to add value to the economy of the country by getting stones locally. “Don’t be dismay about the prospects of starting small, what you have in the developed world started with the cottage industry”.
He lamented that “people just come to Nigeria and take our stones, steel them or export them”, a situation he said was making the country to loss huge revenue from the mining sector.
The Executive Director Therefore called on the relevant agency to revoke mining licenses in the hands of dormant companies.
On her part, the Founder of Mina Stones, Lotanna Amina Egwuatu said the company was born out of passion, “I have always have passion for gem stones and the company were created to expressed that passion”.
She commended the NEPC for the support they have given SMES in the cottage industry particularly Mina Stones. “NEPC has been very supportive especially in the area of training which has boosted our capacity”.
“Initially we struggled because people were not familiar with gem stones especially gem stones in Nigeria even though they bought Nigeria gem stones outside Nigeria”.
“We struggled to let people understand that you can actually invest in gem stones like people invest in gold. You know people are more familiar with gold, but with time, people started accepting gem stones jewelries”.
Egwuatu solicited for more training as a way of boosting capacity in order for the country’s SMES to be able to cope with the demands especially at the International market.