“We also understand that the nearly two million people dying from the effects of fire cooking every year; the millions of tons harvests rotting from lack of power for processing, preservation and transportation; the 90 million kids who can’t study at night; and the staggering rates of unemployment on the continent, are much bigger than your differences.”
BlackEnterprise.com asked Elumelu why there wasn’t a larger contingent of small business owners at the summit as opposed to the plethora of representatives from big corporations from the various sectors of U.S. industries.
Elumelu acknowledged that more needed to be done to welcome the little guy, listing three pillars to drive the growth of Small and Medium Enterprises. They include:
The various governments playing larger roles:
Government should help to create an enabling environment that would support the growth of SME’s. SME’s in Africa like they say, start in the morning and die in the evening. We need to correct that. The reason this happens is because of the lack of an enabling environment. That’s the part government has to play.
The private sector needs to engage:
We all have a role to play. Financial institutions should [have] access to finance for SME’s. We should understand that access isn’t necessarily just commercial banking loans but also include venture and angel capital, angel capital. But on a more serious note, there is no need botheringÂ improving access to finance without improving the operating environment.
Successful Business leaders need to replicate their success stories
We all need to begin investing in the youth. That’s the purpose of the program I mentioned earlier. We believe this will help improve chances of survival because they are also in this category. Individuals who have the spirit of touching mankind and society should help. If we truly want to build our continent and create jobs, we should look to SME’s. We must look at ways to jump-start that sector.
I don’t see miracles happening overnight but the journey has begun and we can only build on what has started.
Stay tuned for an in-depth article with Elumelu on his plans to help build and share wealth with the African American community in an upcoming issue of Black Enterprise magazine.