A Non-Governmental Organisation, Star Sapphire Foundation, has lamented the absence of insurance coverage for about 37 million Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the country.
Executive Director of the Foundation, Mr Amu Ogbeide, made this known during a two-day national workshop on micro insurance in Abuja.
He blamed the situation for the appalling level of poverty and unemployment in the country, adding it was incumbent on small scale business owners and entrepreneurs to insure their businesses.
Ogbeide expressed the readiness of his outfit to sensitise over 10,000 SMEs as part of ongoing effort to mitigate the challenges faced by SMEs in the country.
According to him: “What we thought about was how do we support small businesses in Nigeria. We realize that 96 percent of our businesses are actually micro. They are the Akara, Corn sellers, mama put, butchers etc are the ones that really make up the Nigerian SMEs.
“If only we can support that sector Nigeria will become better. One barbing salon will employ two people, akara woman will employ one girl so at the end of the day those small businesses are the engine of Nigeria’s growth. So that is why we feel that we should come together and work with them.
“In recent times you hear that there is a fire outbreak and everybody’s shop get burnt, there is a protest and everything is destroyed or somebody breaks into somebody’s shop and he loses 100 percent of all he had.
“But we know that it is not supposed to be that way. Insurance is a way for you to recover your assets. If somebody steals your small goods and you call insurance they give you back your money. So we decided to organise a workshop to sensitize micro, the very small businesses in Nigeria.
” If your business is worth N10,000, N20,000 we say come and learn how to pay small money and the insurance will cover you for one year. The next year you pay. So if anything happens like fire, burglary, if anything happens to your business the insurance company will come in.
“We don’t want our people to go out of business again if any small thing happens. Even when the federal government gives you loan to be able to remain in business you also have to insure that loan. So we are partnering with the national insurance commission to educate and sensitize Nigerians.
“We just finished with Kano two weeks ago. It was successful. We even gave out free premium for one year to some businesses. Now we are doing Abuja for today and tomorrow. At the end we will also give free premiums to some businesses just to stimulate the sector.
“There is another aspect we call ethical insurance. They call it takaful. Its a kind of insurance which involves a pooling system. Its a contributory scheme and at the end of the year you can get some money back unlike the other regular insurance where you pay your premium yearly.
“For us as a foundation, we say let’s do it for free and let’s call businesses to come and enjoy the sensitisation workshop in partnership with NICOM and stakeholders.”