The Convention on Business Integrity (CBi) in collaboration with ActionAid and Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) hosted stakeholders to unveil a Web-based Solution that prepares MSMEs to meet COSO 2013 standards on internal controls and to establish certifiable anti-bribery, anti-corruption standards (ABAC).
The launch, which had in attendance key stakeholders in the MSME landscape especially members of the Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME) was an opportunity to learn and voice the experiences and challenges with doing business in Nigeria.
Many agreed that beyond access to finance, MSMEs are faced with difficulties in relation to access to market, technology, information, infrastructure and indeed support services and a compliance framework which the platform helps to address.
CEO, Convention on Business Integrity (CBi), Mr. Soji Apampa stated that “MSMEs in Nigeria are severely challenged by issues of under capitalisation, lack of records, difficulty to access of bank credit, high cost of doing business, irregular power supply, inability to separate personal finances from business, corruption, infrastructural inadequacies like bad roads, government lack of interest in the sector’ amongst a host of other challenges.”
He went on to explain that SMEs can distinguish themselves from other organisations by using compliance with international standards as a competitive edge and subscribing to the COSO 2013 framework.
He added that donor organisations as well as development banks have had cause to stop MSMEs from participating in their activities because of integrity issues such as falsification of their year of incorporation, doctoring the value of reference contracts and tampering with the experience of key personnel, in a process called Debarment.
Presenting the business model of the platform, IT Manager, Integrity Organisation Limited, Mr. Maduka Okafor explained that the value proposition of the platform is to enable MSMEs understand ethical and anti-corruption standards, while serving as a marketplace of service providers who provide regulatory interface services and also helping MSMEs internally assess themselves and show credible evidence of conformance with standards and regulations.
Highlights of the event, was a panel discussion which had chairman, NASME Lagos, Mr. Solomon Aderoju; investment manager, SME.ng, Mrs. Oluwatosin Ojo; head, Emerging Businesses, Access Bank, Dr. Peter Bankole and director, EDC, Pan Atlantic University, Mrs. Ayodele Oloyede as panelists.
The panelists agreed that more incentives can be used as a motivation tool to drive the usage of the platform amongst other benefits such as the inclusion in the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) Ethics first searchable database of compliant African firms; and the UK Business Integrity Initiative which aims to build successful British business presence in frontier markets like Nigeria through clean and compliant businesses with local presence.