By Asmau Ahmad
The Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS), has reiterated its commitment to support the growth of small businesses in Nigeria and the West Africa region.
ECOWAS Commissioner for Economic Affairs and Agriculture, Mrs Massandje Toure- Litse, said this while receiving an award of excellence from the National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASMEs) in Abuja on Saturday.
The award was one of the highlights at the on-going 2023 West Africa SMEs Exhibition.
Toure- Litse was recognised for her collaboration and contribution towards the development of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the West African region.
While reiterating ECOWAS commitment to continue partnering with NASMEs to boost small businesses, she expressed her pleasure at receiving the award.
“That is the result of all the interests that ECOWAS shows in that segment of our economy in all our countries.
“Development of SMEs is a way to really empower women and youth and to create jobs. And it is the cognisance of the work of my team.
“And it is really an opportunity for me as a commissioner, to reiterate the fact that ECOWAS will in the years to come, continue to work to attain this objective.
“Of helping more and more SMEs integrate the formal economy and create jobs for women, for youths in usage of the internet for developing more trade volumes between our countries,” she said.
The commissioner said ECOWAS with its 15 countries, had more than 300 million inhabitants.
Toure- Litse said: “It’s a big market, and we definitely need to take those opportunities, those business opportunities by helping the SMEs.
Earlier, the President and Chairman Governing Council of NASMEs, Dr Abdulrashid Yerima, recognised its partners which included the ECOWAS, SMEDAN, Deputy Speaker and Office of the Lhuillier.’
“Today, we are presenting an award to the ECOWAS Commissioner, in recognition of her outstanding contributions to MSMEs development in the West African region.
“We appreciate her and her commission’s sponsorship of this Maiden event which we intend to hold annually going forward.”
The president reiterated that the NASME’s N1 billion each Women and Youth Empowerment Fund would be extended to other West African States.
“We are bringing in our brothers and sisters from West Africa to be part of this empowerment programme.
“We are also bringing in new partners like the International Trade Centre, Nigerian Police Micro Finance Bank, Bank of Industry, Sterling Bank and other international partners.
On the beneficiaries, he said they would include graduates, non-graduates, nano and micro business owners and those in the digital innovation technology.
Dr Yerima said the objective of the fund was to support the green and digital economies in the country.