Every year, the world marks June 27 as its Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises Day. It was introduced by the United Nations In 2017 when it resolved to recognize MSMEs for powering the global economy.
Small businesses are important. They employ up to 70% of the global workforce and contribute half its GDP. Nine out of every ten companies on the planet is an MSME. Ditch the news streams covering giant corporations round the clock; we should hear more from small businesses.
The global numbers mentioned above are magnified in Nigeria. We are one of the world’s most entrepreneurial societies. One out of every three Nigerian adults is an entrepreneur. The overwhelming majority of these run smaller-scale businesses. And 48% of the country’s domestic wealth comes from them.
Small Businesses And The COVID-19 Pandemic
This year, the mood around the World MSME Day is sombre. The year has been blighted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and small businesses everywhere have been hit hard.
They have lost billions of dollars due to lockdowns imposed by governments in response to the crisis. Some have cut back on vital spending. Many have downsized. Not a few have shut down permanently.
The global economy is expected to shrink -4.9% this year. Small scale enterprises will be disproportionally affected. It could be worse for Nigeria—the IMF projects our economy will shrink -5.5% in 2020.
The country’s MSMEs, already struggling with systemic and structural impediments to their growth, are now reeling from the double blow of COVID-19 and crashing oil prices. Businesses have closed by the thousands. Yet, forecasts suggest we still haven’t gotten through challenging times.
Looking To The Future With Hope And Courage
The UN and other global bodies have called on governments the world over to help their small business sectors get through the current trying times. Many are responding. They have paid furloughed employees, given support grants to MSMEs, and extended deadlines for filing taxes.
Nigeria’s government says it’s doing its part as well. It has just approved a ₦2.3 trillion economic recovery plan which, among other things, should provide the funding and enabling environment for small businesses to thrive.
Individual entrepreneurs are doing what they can. They are deploying contemporary technologies to improve their processes and reaching larger audiences with new media. There’s a change going on here—and it’s so rapid that we barely even notice that it’s happening.
Eventually, MSMEs in Nigeria will rise above today’s obstacles and march on into a promising future. As they always do.