Segun Awolowo demands feedback from SMEs on past intervention programmes

•Seeks more non-oil export for Nigeria

The Executive Director of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council ( NEPC ), Segun Awolowo has demanded feedback from Small and Medium Enterprises ( SMEs ) that have benefited from the Agency’s different export programmes in order to ascertain areas that need more support to improve capacity for export.

Speaking on Monday in Abuja at a forum organized by the Council for SMEs that the Agency has been supporting for non-oil export, Awolowo said “NEPC has chosen today’s event as part of our Export Promotion Action Plan (EPAP).

“As many of you know, we took the bold decision to put ourselves up for benchmarking by the International Trade Centre in August 2018. Whilst we scored well in a number areas, it was clear that there is much we can improve upon, not least in terms of our strategic plan” he stated.

He said “Following the benchmarking report, NEPC is undergoing a strategy refresh. That is why today’s focus group is so important. We want to hear directly from our stakeholders over the direction you wish to see the Council move. We invite participation from our development partners to present today to discuss ways in which you feel we can form additional strategic partnerships.

“This is an opportunity for you to let us know how you feel our collaborations can be enhanced and improved. We are also here today to discuss past NEPC interventions and where you feel we can improve”.

As a way to improve the country’s export,  Awolowo said “we been looking at feedback from the CBI programme, SIAL food fair, Women in Export events, Gulfood Expo, and Nigeria-UK Trade and Investment Diagnostic study.

“We know that these events resulted in a number of successes. For instance, the SIAL food fair led to 36 MoUs being signed, as well as significant orders particularly for sesame seeds with an order for 19 containers being placed”.

He noted that, “the CBI programme helped to connect Nigerian exporters to the European market with a potential to export over 21 million euros in the two-year period after the culmination of the programme. But despite the successes in all the aforementioned interventions, we know there was a lot we could have improved upon. And that is what we want to hear about from the exporters present today”.

The ED called on the stakeholders to bring ideas that would improve the country’s export forward as ” Nigeria is ready to enter into the world of international trade in a major way,  and it is entrepreneurs such as you who will lead this charge to make the world a market place for Nigerian non-oil products” he stated.

ALSO READ: NEPC to make farm produce competitive globally

In his address,  the Director Policy & Strategy with NEPC, Abdullahi Sidi – Aliyu said at the Forum that the “Focus Group session on non-oil export was government strive to facilitate the inclusiveness of non-oil exports through specific programmes delivered by the Nigerian Export Promotion Council”.

He explained that “in this context, we shall be carrying out a critical evaluation of some pilot programmes executed over the years in order to ascertain their impacts on export businesses, ascertain gaps, assess critical needs and proffer credible solutions and innovative strategies on areas that necessitate interventions.

Also at the Forum, one of the beneficiaries of the many NEPC non-oil export interventions, the Creative Director of OSC Clothing, Solar Babatunde said the Council has helped exposed OSC Clothing to the international market.

However, she lamented that the challenges of processing facilities to meet with international standards, and access to funding had remained an obstacle to the booming of the country’s non-oil export.