AEA reinventing wheel of entrepreneurship in FCT
The Abuja Enterprise Agency, AEA, had on different fora embarked on reinventing the wheel of entrepreneurship in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Our FCT Correspondent, Austine ELEMUE examines different entrepreneurial skills carried out since 2015 and other sundry issues:
Myriads of challenges in the development and promotion of entrepreneurship are not new in the spheres of doing business today. In order to solve the many problems existing in both private and the public sectors of the economy, entrepreneurial activity on a large scale based on a sensitive and innovative attitude guided by a broad concept of welfare is needed even more than before.
Undoubtedly, the Abuja Enterprise Agency, AEA, is the Federal Capital Territory Administration’s vehicle for small and medium enterprise, SMEs development, wealth creation, employment generation, value reorientation and poverty reduction.
In the twelve years of its establishment, the agency has focused on the development and promotion of micro, small and medium enterprises aimed at supporting new and existing entrepreneurs to overcome obstacles through access to finance, proper business planning, developing entrepreneurship skills and suitable work-space for its clients.
A careful review of the activities of the agency from 2015, shows that the agency is reinventing the wheels of entrepreneurial skills in the territory in line with its vision and mission statement of being a symbol of entrepreneurial development in Africa and to provide excellent support services to entrepreneurs by developing relevant programs and activities to start and nurture businesses.
To buttress this point, the AEA has developed relevant programs and activities to start and nurture businesses in 2017 and 2018 in line with its 5 years strategic plan. The agency has delivered a range of business development services to achieve its objectives. These services include business advisory, capacity building trainings on skills acquisition, promotions, access to Finance, Consultancy and other critical services to businesses in the capital city.
The Business Advisory Unit is a one on one counseling session that is designed to identify areas of opportunities and challenges a business is facing. The agency has provided business advisory services to a total of 372 start-up and existing businesses in the FCT in areas such as knowledge on business management, finance management, business plan writing, business registration, marketing planning and linkages, customer services, business strategies and access to market information.
In the area of capacity building training, the AEA has provided capacity building trainings in various areas such as skills acquisition, agricultural training, cooperative management, business management, website design, graphic design, skills’ acquisition, amongst others. Statistically, the agency trained a total of 1,225 business owners between 2015 and 2018.
Another major feat achieved by the agency is in the area of Rural Community Development, RCD. It is an acknowledged fact that one of the agency’s strategies towards accelerating enterprise development in communities of the FCT is through the provision of business development services. Such services include outreach advisory, cooperative management trainings, establishment of one village one product projects, access to finance to facilitate financial inclusion and other services.
The agency has provided business development services to 1,564 rural entrepreneurs.
Enterprise promotion is the strategic promotion of client’s products and services through the use of live events, mobile tours and large network of individual cells to convey or promote a product or idea.
To this end, the Agency has successfully organised Business 360 Degree, Nationwide MSME Clinic, FCT Entrepreneur Creative Merit Award, FECMA, provision of workspace and other activities designed to facilitate business growth. The agency supported 969 businesses through enterprise promotion and workspace provision.
The edition Business 360˚ event was designed to serve as a platform for micro, small and medium enterprises, MSMEs, to access business opportunities and relevant information required for their growth and development.
According to the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the agency, Muhammad Arabi, Business 360 Degree is to provide an opportunity for the stakeholders to engage one another and is expected to address the challenges that hinder the smooth operations of MSMEs in the FCT and beyond.
He said, "This year’s symposium themed, ‘Impact Assessment of Regulatory Bodies’ Activities for the Ease of Doing Business: Post Nationwide MSME Clinics’ was specially designed to appraise the efforts of the business regulatory and development agencies in creating an enabling environment for businesses to thrive in line with the federal government’s initiative to improve the Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria.
"Through your feedback, Business Regulatory and Development Agencies will be better positioned to provide an understanding of existing regulatory frameworks and an insight into current government policies designed to support MSMEs. This forum provides an opportunity to interact, learn and engage all relevant stakeholders who are willing and committed in accelerating the development of your Business".
The agency has sustained its flagship project; the One Village One Product, OVOP, initiative. OVOP is an initiative designed to bring about economic empowerment on a massive scale by identifying and developing products indigenous to various communities in the FCT.
Currently, the agency is working on developing 3 indigenous products in the FCT namely shea butter, cassava and fish production in Rimba and Nuku, both in Abaji area council, and Gutto Community in Bwari area council.
In a bid to achieve the agency’s mandate of taking entrepreneurship to every home in the FCT and its environs, the AEA has proficiently set up a liaison office in the Gwagwalada area council. This office is to serve the people of the Gwagwalada, Kwali, Kuje and Abaji axis. The office was set up with the sole aim of ensuring that entrepreneurship development reaches the grassroots of the FCT through the programs and activities of the agency.
In its quest to promote entrepreneurship in the FCT and its environs, the agency has approached the International Labour Organization, ILO, for possible entrepreneurial opportunities and support/collaborations.
During a visit by the management team of ILO to project sites of the One Village One Product, OVOP, shea butter processing centers in Nuku and Rimba Communities, the group led by the Country Representative, Mr. Dennis Zulu, expressed its readiness to partner with the Federal Capital Territory Administration to promote entrepreneurship by facilitating technical and social support.
The agency in its quest to provide access to finance to entrepreneurs in the FCT developed strategies that will minimize the funding challenges facing the MSMEs. It therefore, established platforms that can avail entrepreneurs the windows to access finance easily for their businesses.
In total, the agency and its bank (FCT MFB) have provided credit facility to over 10,413 residents of the FCT who are willing to do the businesses of their choice. The agency intends to support 2000 businesses yearly in areas such as access to finance, capacity building, information, sensitization on best business practice, advocacy and so on.
To this end, the agency has supported 12,542 businesses and individuals in aforementioned areas. Through this wide array of support, AEA provides businesses in the FCT that will be better positioned in maximizing their profitability and growth potentials.
No doubt, the agency has lived up to its expectations by encouraging and promoting ethical business practices amongst the local business community and facilitating access to finance for viable business proposals. This is a strategy in the federal government policy of job creation and economic growth by the FCT Administration and the Abuja Enterprise Agency.
In the words of Henry Kravis; “The entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity".
Thus, it can be said that the AEA has in the past few years responded and exploited every opportunity for business to thrive in Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory.
PHOTO: The MD/CEO, AEA, Arabi Muhammad Tukur, inspecting locally crafted slippers during one of their events.