Nigeria is blessed with great natural resources across the nation. However, its true wealth that can never run dry are its people. A people that can function in the hardest of situations and still come out incredible. This is the character of the Nigerian spirit. Over the years since independence, Nigeria has tried to grow and though the civil war it had to bear left indelible scars on its history, her growing population and infrastructure has been on the rise, although the level of infrastructure doesn’t meet the expected level by many if not most.
The country’s growth has been the effect of various programs by the government at the Federal, State and Local levels all trying their best to see the betterment of the country and improving lives. In spite of these various programs, the state we’re in today is somewhat confounding when the budgetary expenditure is compared with the results we all see today.
Severally within past years, engaging in my usual exercise of going through the dailies whether as newspapers or via the Internet, I keep coming across the government talking of Public-Private Partnership driven programmes to boost a certain sector. As the years have gone by, I have come to realize a truly impactful way to achieve radical economic transformation in the State.
Steps Towards Radical Economic Transformation
- Organization of Business Conferences/Seminars.
One of the best ways to get people engaged and talking is to make an announcement. With the government of a state organizing economic and business seminars or conferences yearly or bi-annually aimed at telling the world the vast potential of the indigenious entrepreneurs or businesses, this will undoubtedly draw attention from various quarters which would include but not limited to aspiring entrepreneurs, investors (firms & individuals), press community, business owners, experts in various fields etc. With these calibre of people in attendance, government will have innovatively created a medium for various actors of the business world to network and connect with one another. Connecting is not enough. More can and should be done.
- Establishment of Business Incubators
For those who desire to be entrepreneurs, having an idea is not enough even if there is money. The skills to successfully turn a business idea into a profitable business is not something that can be easily acquired from reading textbooks. Experience and practical training from experienced businessmen and business coaches is vital.
Having an idea to disrupt the telecom industry without the necessary skills and expertise to pull it off will end up in utter frustration. For the government to help boost economic activity in the state, as it organizes business and economic conferences, it can also take aspiring entrepreneurs and have them go through a prepared business education programs aimed at exposing them to the necessities of being successful business persons from ideation stage to running corporations.
Though not limited to these, universities and polytechnics presents a starting point for these programmes which will empower students to gain practical skills and be ready to take the world on at the time of graduation.
- Creation of a Business Funding Commission/Agency
Education is not enough to ensure a radical change in the economic position of our society. No matter the idea or knowledge an individual possesses, without money, there will be no meaningful result.
Although we have lots of commissions or agencies of government, however, from personal experience in my usual criss cross around the country, I have seen several government agency properties over ran by bushes or with private individuals living in them not officially placed. Definitely not a palatable experience, but the need for establishment and proper running of these agencies cannot be overemphasized. For the government to fund a business, there has to be a special unit designated for that purpose. This is to ensure accountability and efficiency. The government must be ready to fund startups after it has trained the founders or entrepreneurs. Anyone could express their disagreement on the viability of such an enterprise, but if the agency is entirely or mostly kept out of politics, transparency, accountability, fairness, independence etc, will be enshrined in the review and funding of start-ups therefore completing the needed aspects of getting businesses standing.
Government through various interventions including but not limited to the BOI has given loans to businesses. This is not the type of financing I am talking about here. In this arrangement, the Government through its agency after initial business funding or subsequent funding could take a certain percentage of the equity of these startups.
This financing arrangement will allow startups to access funds to launch out while giving the government opportunities to invest in the enterprises in its state and gain from the growing economy it is helping to create without having to rely only on Tax from businesses.
There may be concerns about government interference in the activity of the Startups, but then government will suffer by losing invested funds. Still via the funding arrangement, Startups and Financiers could come to an arrangement on management of the businesses.
Entrepreneurs in Nigeria have continually advocate for business friendly regulations that do not stifle innovation, while government especially during elections and irs usual poluticking promise the business community its unflinching support to business growth, the participation of government via it’s agencies in these type of funding mechanism I propose above could significantly influence the regulatory agencies to provide business enhancing regulations thus promoting a business friendly environment for radical economic growth and transformation.
- Provision of Post Funding Support After sales services is known to boost sales.
In this public private business arrangement, offering of business supports to startups after initial funding, will incredibly help to increase the statistics of successful startups.
I believe if the government can do these, there will be a significant change in the economic position and activities in the state. This can be implemented anywhere across the Federation but, I wish Delta will be one of the first considering its position as one of the leading tax collecting and oil producing states in Nigeria.