By Okechukwu Keshi Ukegbu
The downward trend in Nigeria economy occasioned by the dwindling prices of oil in the international market, has generated efforts to salvage the ailing economy. In this vein, government has deployed to promote made-in – Nigeria products and launch them in the international market. This is to ensure that these products attract patronage.
Promotion of the Nigerian brand in terms of products and services would guarantee a sustainable employment and is a sure way to turn around our dwindling economy. Also, for us to improve our standard of living, ensure security of lives and property, we need a robust economic agenda that will emphasise production and promotion of local goods. Fortunately, we have strength to achieve this .Our large population that consists of energetic, educated and entrepreneurial people as well as abundance of natural resources place us in a strong position to play both a continental and global roles.
In line with the federal government efforts, the Made In Nigeria Entrepreneurship Conference, tagged MINEC 2016, which celebrates the slogan “From Local, To Global”, is designed to attract international patronage and partnership through bridging the knowledge gap between the points of production to a successful market launch of the products as well as routes to global markets. Few days from now, Aba, one of the commercial-hubs of the country, will be the centre of attraction as it hosts the South East edition of the conference.
No doubt, consistent capacity building, trade information, introduction of simple good corporate governance with relevant knowledge to SMEs for promoting locally made brands are required to build consistent brands. And it is at this backdrop that the conference targets Small and Medium Scale Entrepreneurs, young entrepreneurs, traders, artisans,women, agro- business SMEs, producers, and manufacturers to mentor and build their capacity. This will help to sustain their desire to create things.
The MINEC Platform is an initiative of a Consortium of different technical partners with relevant skills in the development, establishment and management of Small and Medium Enterprises. Each Partner Representatives has over 15years practical experience with local and global exposures covering Manufacturing & Production; FMCG, Brewery, Aviation, Franchising, Small and Medium Enterprises, Entrepreneurship Development; SME Content Development, Agri-Business, Branding, Marketing and Routes-to-Markets strategies, Product & Service, development of simple online-selling Applications that optimizes Social Media advantages in marketing.
MINECng is dedicated to providing customized platform that consistently and dedicatedly promotes Made-in-Nigeria goods, promoting made-in-Nigeria brands to the global markets using social media platforms; collaborating with the government to ensure that a national brand identity is established for Made-in-Nigeria goods as mark of approval; developing a functional platform that increases international buyers’ confidence while doing business with local SMEs.
Other objectives of the project are to provides accessible and regular information and updates about trends in technology, trade, foreign exchange policies, SMEs, Entrepreneurs, and loans to SMEs through routine seminars and social media; provision of routine mentoring programmes to SMEs and Entrepreneurs that are industry based; provision of capacity building on basic office book-keeping, writing basic business plans and simple business management tips.
The conference will cover areas such as CORPORATE PARTNERSHIP: KEY TO SME DEVELOPMENT & MANAGEMENT ;ROLE OF FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS IN SME DEVELOPMENT;IMPERATIVES OF CORPORATE & GOOD GOVERNANCE ;SELLING MADE-IN-NIGERIA GOODS LOCALLY;THE PLACE OF BRANDING (PERSONAL, PRODUCT AND CORPORATE) FOR MADE-IN-ABA GOODS;GETTING INTERNATIONAL BUYERS FOR NIGERIA BRANDS ;LEVERAGING ON ICT, NIGERIA SME TOOLKITS, SOCIAL MEDIA AND INTERNET TO SOURCE FOR INTERNATIONAL BUYERS;WHAT EXACTLY DOES AN INTERNATIONAL BUSINESSMAN NEED FROM MADE-IN-NIGERIA GOODS PRODUCERS, among others.
There is no other as auspicious time for this programme than now. Also, the choice of Aba as the take- off point for the conference is apt.Unarguably, Abia has comparative advantage in leather and garment cluster in Aba and efforts are on top gear for the state to commence the supply of wears to Nigerian military and para-military outfits. There have been consistent calls recently for the federal government to issue a directive to military and para- military outfits in the country to procure their wears from Aba where there is a ready market for the products.
In 2013, when former Senate President, Sen. David Mark declared the first Made-in-Aba Fair open in Abuja, he urged the Federal Government to ban importation of all goods that Nigerians have the capacity to produce locally.
Describing Aba as the” catalyst of industrial revolution in Nigeria’’, Mark said government should henceforth discourage importation of foreign goods because Nigeria has no business importing those goods which do not measure to the quality being produced in the country.
While commending the people of Aba for doing the nation proud through the spirit of enterprise and innovation demonstrated in quality products and goods made available through local skills, he said ‘We have no business importing military boots when what is produced here locally is more superior to that which is brought into the country.
“We have no reason to import ballot boxes for INEC. This locally made ballot box is actually better than the one INEC has been importing. Let us ban all that we can ban to ensure a quick take-off of our industrial sector. The World Trade Organisation (WTO) should not hold us down in economic slavery .If there is any city that deserves the presence of the Bank of Industry, it is Aba city,’’ Mark said.
The time is ripe for us to encourage made in Nigeria goods. This effort if implemented will go a long way in ameliorating the economic woes of the country by saving the nation the foreign currencies expended on importation of goods and services (even those we have the capacity of producing).
Ukegbu, a public policy analyst and communication strategist, writes from Aba, Abia State.