NBS, others begin research on opportunities, challenges of small businesses

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) says it is joining other partners to begin research on understanding the opportunities and challenges faced by small businesses in Nigeria

The Statistician-General of the Federation, Mr Simon Harry, said this at a news conference on Small Firms Diaries (SFD) Research Initiative in Nigeria, on Friday, in Abuja.

According to Harry, the research is in collaboration with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Lagos Business School, Financial Access Initiative (FAI) of the New York University and Low-Income Financial Transformers (L-IFT).

He also said that data collection was already ongoing in various selected sites across Lagos, Kaduna and Enugu States, which would represent the federation.

”The targeted sectors of interest are firms engaged in light manufacturing, agro-processing, selected services with growth potential and women-owned firms in the identified sectors,” he said.

Harry said that the research was expected to provide unprecedented insight into small firms and their economic decision-making by providing information about the ebbs and flows of their businesses.

”It would also take note of the markets they serve, the constraints to their productivity, profitability and growth and the impact of access or lack of it to technology and formal credit.

“It is also expected that the outcome of the research will inform product design and marketing of digital financial services to better meet the needs of small owners, employers and their customers.

“It will further advance the understanding of the distinct experiences and challenges of women running small firms and offer new recommendations to policymakers and others on how to eliminate the gender profit gap.

“In essence, the SFD research has direct relevance to economic development and poverty alleviation in Nigeria and as such NBS is proud to be a part of this innovative research,” Harry stated

According to him, the diaries methodology is a new innovation that necessitates that firms are closely studied over a period of 12 months to understand the patterns of economic decisions taken by them.

He, however, solicited for the full cooperation of selected firms to provide information to the team of interviewers that would be visiting them.

Mr Adeyemi Adeniran, Director, Real Sector and Household Statistics Department and the project director for SFD, said that a vibrant Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) was a precursor to high economic development.

He explained that the research was very important to the sector as it would guide policymakers, stakeholders and financial service providers by providing information on cash flow and economic decision making.

”It would also provide information on challenges to growth, access to business tools, credit facility and technology required for growth and discrimination of women-owned small firms,” Adeniran said.

He said that 150 firms in each of the three states were targeted.

According to him, the targeted small firms are those whose owners are poor and whose income from their businesses does not meet the needs of the owners and their families.

“Another criterion for the selection is small firms that are owned by women.

“We know that for the economy to have steady growth, it is expected that women need to be brought on board to contribute their own quota, and a lot of the small businesses we are talking about are being run by women.

“We also look at firms that have the potential for growth. Look at their potentials and see that if they are properly monitored and given support, there is potential for them to grow and contribute to our Gross Domestic Product,” he said.

Adeniran also said that selected forms would be supported with phones and tablets to record their daily transactions to serve as a way of including them digitally. (NAN)