The Association of Small Business Owners of Nigeria has said no fewer than 10 million small businesses under the association were shut in 2023.
ASBON’s President Femi Egbesola, who disclosed this during an interview with Saturday PUNCH, said that the businesses ceased to exist due to economic hardship.
The removal of subsidy by President Bola Tinubu during his inauguration on May 29 and the subsequent increase in the pump price of petrol and other basic commodities, leading to worsened inflation, an increase in unemployment, and poverty rates created hardship for Nigerians.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, in November 2023, the headline inflation rate increased to 28.20 per cent relative to the October 2023 inflation rate, which was 27.33 per cent.
Speaking on the effect of the economic hardship on members, Egbesola said, “We experienced about 25 per cent death of businesses this year (2023), which is a high and alarming figure. This is the percentage that was determined after thorough research.
“At the moment, we have 40 million MSMEs in the country that are captured by data. When you are talking about 25 per cent of that, that is 10 million businesses that have died.
“In some countries, if this happens, a state of emergency would be declared by the government in this sector because it is a critical sector that will be metamorphosed from micro to small, small to medium, and from medium to large. If you can ask, for the past 10 years, how many micro or small businesses have become large businesses?
“You will never see it, and that tells you that there is a lacuna and that something is mitigating against the growth. If a business has operated as a micro, small, or medium for a period of five to 15 years and is unable to migrate to a large, then there is a big problem that should be investigated and solutions provided for, but without this being done, we will not have bigger businesses, and if we don’t have bigger businesses, there will be more unemployment, there won’t be innovation, our GDP will not improve, and poverty will continue to rage.
“When there is poverty, it goes along with its attendant problems like crimes, like japa, yahoo-yahoo and other social vices which are not good for our country.”
According to him, to save more businesses from collapsing in the coming year, the Federal Government must endeavour to fix power and roads and make forex and funds available to MSMEs.
He added, “When these things are fixed, certainly a lot of businesses will grow. We can no longer buy fuel at very exorbitant prices to power our generators, and one of the critical challenges for MSMEs is that they are unable to access affordable funds.
“This will help to awaken ailing and almost dead businesses. As far as forex is concerned, we depend on the black market, which is very exorbitant because the banks sell only to big companies at the detriment of micro and small businesses.”