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INTERVIEW: SME Roundtable in Bayelsa will promote small scale businesses in the country – DG, Bayelsa MEDA

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                                 Mr. Ebiekure              

Bayelsa State is set to host global leaders storming Yenagoa within the week for the 2018 Africa SME Roundtable. Mr. Ebiekure Jasper Eradiri, the Director-General of  Bayelsa State Microfinance and Enterprise Development Agency(BYMEDA), Spoke with a select journalists and our man Lawal Ebiowei was there to capture the DG who said the event will last for three days

For the benefit of those who have never heard of or had contacts with you; who essentially  is Mr. Ebiekure Jasper Eradiri?      

My name is Ebiekure Jasper Eradiri. Firstly I am a Bayelsan. A hive Africa Global Leader,A Governing body member of the World Association for Small & Medium Enterprises ( WASME) ),former Advisor to Governor of Bayelsa State on SME and  Presently, I serve the Restoration Government of Governor Seriake Dickson as the Director-General, Bayelsa State Microfinance and Enterprise Development Agency.

The world is coming to Bayelsa State later this week at the hosting instance of the Bayelsa State Microfinance & Enterprise Development Agency. What is it all about and how was the hosting right granted?      

Well,we are only Co-host as the event is initiated by the Knight Lambert Foundation but endorsed   by the World Association for Small and Medium Enterprises (WASME). The city of Yenagoa, Bayelsa was considered the preferred city  to host the 2018 Africa Roundtable Event due to the Commendable strides and efforts at SME development by H.E Governor Henry Seriake Dickson.The formal letter was communicated ‎ to the Bayelsa State Government through the Bayelsa State Microfinance and Enterprise Development Agency ( BYMEDA) in the last quarter of 2018.It may suffice to inform that the Bayelsa State Microfinance and Enterprise Development Agency ( BYMEDA) is the foremost parastatal of the State Government mandated by law to promote, develop and support the growth of MSMEs in the State.  The event is scheduled for Thursday March 1 through Saturday, March 3, 2018 at the Chief D. S. P. Alamieyeseigha Memorial Banquet Hall.
What is the theme of the event and what does it objectively entail?    

The event is themed ”The Position of Africa SMEs within the Global Economy: Unlocking Market Opportunities’, and objectively the event will promote and accelerate SMEs development  in Africa, provide a platform of networking among entrepreneurs as well as encourage the growth of SMEs in Africa. More roundly phrased, I would say it is geared at awakening the SMEs in Africa for the necessary growth of African economies.

 Who are the likely guests and participants expected to grace the event?

So far, about 15 African Countries, 25 African Development Finance Institutions, about 10 Global SME Funding Support Institutions, SME Experts, Angel Investors, Crowd Funders, Venture Capitalists, Franchise Agencies, etc. have indicated interest to attend the event. Furthermore, Trade and Finance Ministers, Government Agencies, Entrepreneurs, Academia, Business Membership Organizations, Banks etc are also expected to actively participate at the event. The event promotes some objectives of the African Union even as its related bodies are inclined to attend with a view of examining policies, strategies, best solutions and programs to upgrade African SMEs and launch them into new growth trajectories.

Can you please give us a highlight of the major activities lined up for the event?                

Answer: The 3-day convoke will amongst others showcase an African Sister-Cities Trade Expo to boost Inter-African Trade, promote bilateral relations as well as provide a platform for Business-to-Business (B2B)/Business-to-Government (B2G) opportunities. There will also be a Made in Bayelsa Trade Fair designed to boost SMEs in the State and create avenues for business networking. It will further promote locally-sourced for and manufactured products. Other major highlights of the event will include: Inauguration of the All Africa Association for SME (AAASME) by Alhaji Babale Girei (President, World Association for Small and Medium Enterprises – WASME); Unveiling of the SME Compendium: 6 Years of Bayelsa State Restoration Government; SME Solution Centre; Inaugural Board Meeting of All Africa  Association for SME (AAASME) amongst others.

How prepared are you to host the world and compared  to previous editions, how do you think, Bayelsa 2018 Africa SME Roundtable  will stand out?

We can proudly say that we are at the final stage of preparation. So barring any last minute changes, we are prepared to shock the world. Why do I say so? The segment on Technical Roundtable Sessions will feature  keynotes on SME Policy etc from some of the world’s best players in the economic terrain. We expect topics like “Institutional Roles of Government in Promoting SMEs and Entrepreneurship in Africa” . Other topics that will be diagnostically treated by renowned industry players include: The Pragmatic Solution to Mitigate Africa – Europe Migration/ Refugee Challenge; Lead Speaker – Mr. Michel Arrion (European Ambassador to Nigeria); SME Finance; A Critical Factor for Promoting Economic Development in Africa; SME Opportunities In Oil and Gas Sector;  A Local Content Recipe for African Nations; Lead Speaker – Engr. Simbi Wabote (Executive Secretary, Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board); Information, Communication & Technology; A Tool for Accelerated Transformation of SMEs; Green Economy & Green Growth for SMEs; Lead Speaker – Mr. Msibi J. Dumisani, (Group Managing Director, Fincorp Mbabane, Swaziland); as well as Enterprise Development Ecosystem; Driving Inclusive Growth for Women and Youth Enterprises in Africa; Lead  Speaker –  Hon. Aisha Abubakar (Honourable Minister of State, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment).
There will also be a  minimum of six well-equipped Panelists comprising Heads of Governments,  Ministers, Successful Entrepreneurs amongst others to dissect the several lectures.

 Is there any last word?

The event will be another opportunity to showcase Bayelsa State to the world; and that is the more reason, we planned the event to be concluded with an experience tour to some of the significant sites in Bayelsa State like visits to the First Oil Well in Nigeria, University of Africa and Bayelsa State Ecumenical Centre.   However. the event will formally come to an end on Saturday, March 3, 2018, while guests and participants departs on Saturday, March 4, 2018.

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