Abia relies on SMEs for development, says Oseiza
Hon. Adaku Uwaoma Oseiza is Commissioner for Small and Medium Enterprises and Small Business Development in Abia State. In this interview with BIYI ADEGOROYE, she talks about the government’s efforts to gradually develop and transform small and medium enterprises in the state for maximum impact
What is Abia State’s vision for SMEs?
Abia State’s vision is to leverage the already skilled workforce and artisans in the leather and apparel sub-sector to create an SME ecosystem that will improve the quality and volume of products from Aba, otherwise known as Eyimba City.
This will make Abia an investment destination for leather products and garments, providing us with the opportunity to export top quality products to the rest of the world From the start of his administration, my Governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, made the exploitation and promotion of the productive prowess of artisans in Aba State one of the cardinal axes of his administration.
To what extent has this been achieved and what efforts are being made in this regard?
The success has been enormous in the areas of goods produced, contribution to GDP and skills acquisition. Our Footwear Academy has had over 2,000 registrations, so last year some graduates from the academy received an offer to go to Dubai and work, which means the state has become an exporter of skilled labor.
Our children now have the opportunity to learn how to make shoes and make clothes. obtain certificates for their skills and attract business interests from outside Nigeria.
I think it’s very rewarding. I remember Governor Ikpeazu sent 30 shoemakers to China to learn automated shoemaking and when they returned; he bought the automated shoe making equipment they used in China and established the Enyimba Automated Shoe Company (ENASCO) to start machine shoe making, which was recently commissioned by the president of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan. On the marketing side, we organized fashion shows and fairs.
Why does your state often claim to be the SME capital of Nigeria?
This was actually confirmed by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo when he saw that nearly 250,000 people were engaged in SMEs and commended the massive support that the Abia State government was giving. to the sector.
We have deserved it and my governor has done a lot in this regard. From the start, my Governor was fully aware that our people could not engage in e-commerce and could not market beyond their Togolese customers.
He looked at how we can be part of the great global multi-billion dollar leather and apparel economy. How to capture the 200 million people in Nigeria who wear Made in Aba? As we speak, a number of African countries are discussing with us the production of their police boots and other accessories, indicating that we have our eyes on the bigger picture and are not looking back.
How important are leather and garment factories in Abia and what impact has this had on the economy of the state?
The leather and garment sector in Aba employs over a million people and that is huge, but the government is moving towards automation and better finishing with ENASCO and the garment factory which is also future. The yield will be bigger and better.
Your Governor recently received the award(s) for the best in the field of SMEs. How did you feel about this?
I am proud that His Excellency, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu won the SME award in Lagos, after the 2021MSME award won in Abuja, as he was very passionate about developing SMEs with effective strategies.
You will recall that last year my Governor enrolled in the Footwear Academy where we have over 2,000 young people learning the same thing. His recruitment is inspiring and it is leadership by example. He also took his shoemaking training seriously, so he recently displayed some of the shoes he made as a result of his training at the center.
This will motivate the younger generation to take an interest in craftsmanship and become self-sufficient. Beyond the production, he also took care of the marketing aspect, and this is how my governor became the Made in Aba brand ambassador.
He wears and promotes Made in Aba outfits. He took some to the National Assembly and to the Presidency. He brought it to former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
The culmination of our efforts was the day the Nigerian army placed an order for 50,000 military boots and if you calculate 10,000 per person multiplied by 50,000 you know how much impact that had on gross domestic product (GDP) of the common cobbler in Aba. The quality of shoes coming from Aba today will be comparable to imported shoes. We have very good prospects of doing the same for the police.
What are some of the challenges to SME development in general?
Issues that militate against SME development in Abia, as identified in 2015, are lack of stable electricity, poor access to finance, poor market access and capacity building and automation. In 2019, the government collaborated with the federal government and established the Ariria Independent Powerhouse and we support geometric power for more options and wider coverage.
We are therefore in the process of fixing the power supply problem. In terms of access to finance, the state government organizes artisans into cooperatives so that they can access funds from the Bank of Industry (BOI) and others.
Abia has created an SME bank solely to support SMEs. My governor insisted that for the sake of our poor people, the shoemakers, for the sake of the small business that we are promoting, we should have a place where they can go and borrow money to expand their businesses.
Some people need ₦50,000, some people need ₦150,000, some people need ₦200,000, I can tell you that not everyone needs the millions we are talking about.
What impact do you want to have within the ministry given its central position in the state government agenda?
In addition to making sure they get more training opportunities that would allow them to improve the quality of their production, I would like to make sure that our SMEs have better opportunities to access funds that can help them expand their existing businesses, start new ones, and help failing businesses.
I would like them to have access to global markets through a future platform that we are offering. Stay tuned on this. We are currently migrating information to our website where the world can see the database of our registered SMEs and making the process easier for them.
This way they get more opportunities. In addition, my ministry is currently conducting entrepreneurship and training and empowerment programs to promote SMEs in the 17 local governments in the state in the areas of leather goods, hairdressing, photography, GSM repairs and tiles, etc.
The program organized in collaboration with the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) started in Obingwa Local Government Area and is designed to encourage young business owners with management skills for the sustainability and provide loan support.
How do you see the role of women in national development?
Women play a vital role in national development and we are an indispensable force in the quest for national development. Over time, women have ensured sustainable development and also improved the quality of life through several empowerment programs.
Many women have also been relegated to the background because they lack the education, economic and political power needed to actualize their innate potentials. Women should therefore be encouraged as they play an invaluable role in national development.
Give us an overview of your background, training and all?
I come from a humble background. My father is a professor at NDA (retired but on extension) while my mother retired from the US Embassy in Abuja. I just have one brother and we were raised to fear and serve God
. I was born in Kano, grew up in Kaduna and graduated with a BSc. University education Business Administration at Bayero University in Kano, MBA from Business School Netherlands, I also took leadership and strategy courses at Harvard University in Boston among several other professional courses. I also attended two etiquette schools.
The Protocol School in Washington for corporate etiquette and international protocol consultant, then the International Etiquette and Protocol Academy in London for social etiquette and finishing school.
I started my career as a banker for about four years, after that I worked with the American Embassy for 11 years in the consular section. Then I resigned and joined politics in Abia State.
How would you describe your worldview, lifestyle, family values?
The world evolved from what I knew growing up. There is so much insecurity and mistrust towards each other. People are no longer their brother’s keepers. There is no more community life; the neighbors hardly know each other and it is slowly becoming lonely for many people and it is very sad.
My lifestyle is simple. I stay focused on the things I consider very important to me and don’t get distracted, and I let go of the things that no longer matter to me.
I easily move on. I always pray and ask God to guide me in every step I want to take. I work hard but I like to sing and dance. I also like to give lives as much as possible through my foundation @aidabenjamin.
The family is the first mission that God entrusted to us and we will give an account of how we have managed this mission. Work and money should not replace your family and our parental responsibilities. We need to raise a family that will not become a moral burden on our society as a whole.
What is your advice to parents on the procreation, education and training of children to achieve their goals in the contemporary world?
Parents should make sure they only have the number of children they can care for. They shouldn’t have too many children for them to become a threat in society. It would be responsible procreation.
Every child should and must go to school and parents should be very involved in the upbringing of their child, help raise the child in the right direction so that the child does not miss the goal that God has given him in life.
Today, it is recognized that Nigeria has over 10 million out-of-school children, one of the highest in the world. It’s troubling. We need to bring up our children godly and watch what they watch and what kind of company they have.
Unfortunately the internet has taken a toll on our society so we need to have an open relationship with our children so they can be our friends so they can be open to us and share what they are going through for allow us to guide them. better.