Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Take advantage of ICT, Ibru tells SMEs

Young and aspiring entrepreneurs have been advised to take advantage of the growing availability of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in the country as a means of saving running cost of their businesses, reports Charles Okoh.

Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Oceanic Bank International Plc, Dr. (Mrs.) Cecilia Ibru, gave this advice over the weekend at the recently concluded Computer, Telecommunications and Office equipment exhibition (CTO 2008).

She implored medium and small scale entrepreneurs not to despair despite the unfavourable macroeconomic environment, but to develop the right mindset to go through and achieve success while advising new start-ups not to envy others but remain resolute and focused until they have achieved their goals.

Mrs. Ibru who spoke on Business Financing: Getting the Fundamentals Right for SME and Microfinance, said the theme of the exhibition, A world without borders, is apt and should challenge young entrepreneurs to realize that there is no limit or failure for any aspiring entrepreneur with can-do-it spirit.

She listed some of the challenges of business financing in the country as, limited number of attractive investment opportunities and lack of enabling environment for businesses; dearth of reliable information on industries, which obscures investment opportunities; inability of entrepreneurs to articulate business plans due to lack of sophistication/skills; low level of management and technical competence; unwillingness of entrepreneurs to dilute holdings as well as the ‘national cake’ mindset which make most of the entrepreneurs to go the banks unprepared for the scrutiny the SMEEIS scheme entails among others.

She also encouraged entrepreneurs to pay their taxes because that is the only way they could demand provision of infrastructure from the government, noting that the country is rich and not poor because foreigners extract from here and make wealth for themselves outside the country.

The week-long exhibition which took place from May 12 to 16, 2008, the tool of the U.S. Commercial Service in Nigeria to encourage local companies in association with their U.S. suppliers and manufacturers of computers, telecommunications and office equipment to showcase the every best of American technology, equipment and services available in Nigeria for the sub region.

The exhibition featured an all-day, special-event seminar on the first day and a four-day exhibition with private seminars, workshops, product/services launching and demonstration was declared open official last week Tuesday by the U.S Ambassador to Nigeria. Ms Robin Renee Sander, Lagos State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Opeyemi Bamidele and the MD/CEO Fidelity Bank Plc, Mr. Reginald Ihejiahi.

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