The Investment and Technology Promotion Office (ITPO) of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), is set to empower and support Nigerian youth entrepreneurs with interactive e-learning packages and online coaching on how to meet bank’s lending requirements.
The Chief Technical Adviser, UNIDO-ITPO, Mr. Stanislaw Pigon, explained that the innovation was to improve their “bank readiness” and capabilities to formulate and communicate their business ideas.
According to him, the global body is sharpening the project formulation and appraisal skills of the youth, who are operators in the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) sector of the economy, with its refined Computer Model for Feasibility Analysis and Reporting Lite (COMFAR Lite).
COMFAR Lite is a state-of-the-art investment project analysis tool that, through its interactive and intuitive modules, allows even less experienced entrepreneurs to present their business ideas.
It is the first software of its kind to be used to scale up enterprises, which will lead to job creation in local communities, according to the organisation.
Pigon said, “MSMEs need less sophisticated and educative tools. They require a special simplified version of the software used by big firms that is dedicated to less experienced entrepreneurs like the COMFAR Lite.
This will be the core of ITPO Nigeria’s offer that will be delivered through the Centre of Excellence and established within financial institutions at the national and regional levels.
“From the perspective of MSMEs, the most important factor is that they are ‘bank-ready’. This means we need to offer them some simpler tools to present the financial aspects of their business ideas.
Nigerian MSMEs prove to be very innovative and come with excellent business concepts. Still, many start-ups do not survive because they cannot cope with the financial aspects of business.
“We are facing a problem of financial literacy, starting with university graduates who cannot find jobs, to existing, even successful MSMEs, which cannot find resources to grow,” he added.
The Chief Technical Adviser added that UNIDO-ITPO “assists governments in setting up the adequate environment to create employment for MSMEs, to identify value chains and innovative sectors with high potential for women and youth employment and women/youth-led entrepreneurship.”
For 50 years, he said, UNIDO has worked with governments and the private sector to promote investment.
Having observed that quality of investment projects, proposals and studies is a key factor affecting both foreign and domestic investment flows, Pigon said governments and entrepreneurs of developing and developed countries alike require properly prepared feasibility studies for investment projects in order to take sound investment decisions based on right choice of technologies that would accommodate industrial growth, innovation and sustainability.
“Governments will need adequate capacity, competence, and legitimacy to mobilise and interact with all stakeholders, thereby creating an attractive investment climate. The necessary reforms will open the way for public private partnerships, which can provide investment for infrastructure development and maintenance,” he added.
While explaining that the UNIDO-ITPO was operating a three-year period of activities that would continue thereafter based on outcomes, he said that people would be trained in investment technology-related areas that drive business in the 21st century.
The Head, UNIDO-ITPO Nigeria, Mrs. Adebisi Olumodimu, said the country could leapfrog in economic diversification, industrial upgrading and technological innovation, to make it a more competitive brand in the African continent and the world at large, adding that the UNIDO-ITPO would like to transfer knowledge and introduce the best practices in preparation for the investment process.
“This way, the investment project will be presented outside Nigeria in form of attractive portfolio. But then, it is not only to train the trainers; we will also like to interact with the universities and the educational sector in general. We want graduates to be prepared for business life,” she added.