By Boris Esono Nwenfor
The Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Promotion Agency, SMEPA, in partnership with the International Labour Office have trained youths and SMEs under the programme “start your business and other tools of the SME Agency.”
The Training of Trainers programme which took place at the Buea Mountain Hotel from November 17 to November 20, 2020, had the aim of assisting Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, SMEs who face tough competition. “This programme is to upgrade the standards of SMEs of the North West and South West Regions,” Jean Marie Louis Badga, General Manager SMEPA told reporters.
“We are training these trainers to help them have all the tools to accompany these SMEs to be resilient in the field, become more competitive. We have these programmes so we train SMEs to promote entrepreneurship for young people. It is also to accompany those on the field to become more competitive and with high standards.”
SMEPA hopes to train at least one thousand SME workers in each Region between now and the next two years. It is a robust plan which falls in line with the objectives of the National Development Strategy Plan for 2020 and 203, which the Prime Minister launched November 16.
According to SMEPA General Manager, this programme falls in line with the Head of State’s vision to accompany youths in their projects, provide solutions to problems faced by businesses through modules that were designed for them. He went on to express his wish to see that the trainees put to use the skills acquired for the benefit of themselves and their communities.
The Small and Medium Size Enterprises sector has been identified as one of those sectors that provide opportunities for the youths in terms of job creation. It is that sector which equally contributes a great deal to the economy of the country.
In Cameroon, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are regarded as vectors for job and wealth creation. Statistics from the Ministry of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, Social Economy and Handicrafts, which show there are more than 400,000 companies in the informal sector and out of these, 99%, are SMEs.
This dynamic presence helps to generate growth and redistribute wealth in society. Their important role in reducing poverty in Cameroon is also gaining recognition. Small and Medium Size Enterprises (SMEs) contribute around 36% of Cameroon’s GDP, make-up over 90% of businesses in Cameroon, and employ above 60% of the population.
The business environment in Cameroon is good but the lack of resource harmonization in the Cameroon Entrepreneurship sphere is considered as among the main causes of short-run business failure and poor competitive capacity. SMEs in Cameroon face significant challenges regarding Managerial skills, lack of capital, networking and lack of dedicated agencies to assist the existing and potential entrepreneurs, lacking communication skills, low quality and standards, poor human resource management skills.
Addressing the officials, David Mafani Namange, Mayor of Buea urged the youths to make use of this programme so that “the building of our communities will be done with the help of your expertise.” “While we thank you for giving us a Centre for Enterprises it serves no purpose if the structure that is to help these enterprises to become sustainable is not present. We, therefore, request you see the possibility of opening a branch of the Small and Medium Size Enterprises in the South West Region. We are a Region that needs one and the environment is conducive enough. The time cannot be better than now,” David Mafani Namange, Mayor of Buea told SMEPA General Manager.
One of the trainees Joshua Tembang said: “I am leaving here and I believe I will be an expert in entrepreneurship and I will be able to train others in my community and empower the youths. At this particular time, the youths are facing considerable challenges and without jobs, we are calling on the youths to become entrepreneurs and push our economy ahead.”
The Ministry of Small and Medium Size Enterprises, Social Economy was created in 2004 as one of the means to reduce increasing rates of poverty and unemployment. Statistics according to ENS stands at 3.8 per cent in 2020. Youth unemployment stands at 5.84 per cent in 2020, according to statistics from the ILO.