The Umuahia Chamber of Commerce, Industry,Mines and Agriculture (UCCIMA), has held the 6th Edition of the Abia Small and Medium Enterprise Forum in collaboration with Wider Perspective,to address issues facing small business owners in Abia and profer solutions so they can thrive.
The Event which took place at the Rapha Hotels,Umuahia,had over 100 SME operators in attendance.
In his remarks, the UCCIMA President, Chief Chidi Nkem Aruoma, intimated the SME operators the essence of the forum which he said is hinged on helping Small and Medium Scale operators gain wider reach by assisting them access financial support to grow their business.
Aruoma disclosed that the UCCIMA and other investment partners is ready to provide enabling environment for business owners in Abia to thrive,hence the theme of the 6th Edition of the SME Forum,”Building Capacity For Global Market Readiness”.
In an interview with journalists, Chief Chidi Nkem-Aruoma,noted that the story of SME operators is gradually changing for the better,as business owners can now have access to funding, training, empowerment materials, unlike what was obtainable before.
“We are looking at how we can expand beyond where we are today. Eventhough Umuahia is not a business area,but with proper definition,we can grow.Also,we are seeking ways to market government policies.One thing is to make policies, another thing is to actualize them”.
He added that UCCIMA as an organized private sector, would do its best to promote trade and investment.
Aruoma further stated that for the past one year,UCCIMA had been introducing programs beneficial to the growth of SME,like exposing them to accessing of funds from relevant agencies for their business, introducing training institutions for those who want to learn a skill.According to him, this has further changed the narrative of people who now venture into small businesses like fashion designing,hair dressing,shoe cobbling among others.
He disclosed that UCCIMA has concluded arrangements with ICT and logistics partners who are ready to come to Umuahia to train people on phone and tricycle repairs.This he said, would help decongest the high number of people waiting on the government to get white collar jobs.
The UCCIMA boss, however, commended investors who heeded to their call, by coming back home to invest, stating that quite a number of investments are springing up in Umuahia.
Earlier, the Commissioner for Small and Medium Enterprise Development,Lady Adaku Oseiza,who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Nkwachukwu Agomoh, encouraged the SME operators to continue to put in their best, while the government is doing all it could to create an enabling environment for them to thrive.
Also,the 2023 Governorship candidate under the African Democratic Congress in Abia, Bishop Sunday Onuoha, called for more business channels to be opened up in the state, particularly in Aba,the commercial hub of the state.