International organizations such as the World Bank, the World Trade Organization, the United Nations, European Union amongst others; agreed that small and medium-sized enterprises or small and medium-sized businesses are business concerns whose number of personnel fall below certain limits.
SMEs are usually non-subsidiary, independent firms with fewer than a given number of employees. The number varies across countries. For instance, in the European Union, the most frequent upper limit designating an SME is 250 employees.
SMEs play an essential role in the economy of a country. They represent a source of entrepreneurship abilities, innovation and the creation of new jobs. Their capacity to apply, adapt and disseminate new technology is unique.
With a total number of about 17.4 million nationwide, Nigerian SMEs contribute 48 per cent of the national GDP.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics – NBS, small and medium enterprises account for 96 per cent of businesses and 84 per cent of employment in Nigeria while accounting for about 50 per cent of industrial jobs and nearly 90 per cent of the manufacturing sector number of enterprises.
On the Nigerian scene, what is the situation, what are the challenges and what is the way forward, a business consultant and SME industrialist, Azuka Ijeke, in iBrand’s Business 24 program, stated that every economy has to be built on something.
In his words: “When we say there are no jobs in this economy, it is not totally true, it is not totally complete, because there are jobs.
“The informal sectors have jobs, a lot of which are at the micro-level, the organised sector on the other hands, the jobs are the visible ones, they are the one more captured by everyone.
“The truth is that we have an unemployment problem, we have a bulging youth population, and we are not doing enough to keep everybody engages, and the simple reason is we are not producing what we consume.
“Unless we produce what we use and create production systems that will now use human resources for those production, we will not go out of this bulge.
“Throwing money at a problem without an in-depth design of what that solution should be will only give you the same result. The government is trying its best, but there must be the input of those who know how things are done
“The Nigerian economy is not a design-led economy.”