American firms operating in Nigeria have stressed the need to develop local industries and integrate Small and Medium Enterprises into the mainstream business circle as a way of speeding up economic development and stemming unemployment in the country.
The firms during a breakfast meeting organised by the Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce, to assess the social impact of American businesses in Nigeria, insisted that SMEs development were part of their Corporate Social Responsibility.
The President, American Business Council, Dr. Lazarus Angbazo, who was guest speaker at the program, said foreign firms needed to have local companies that they were developing.
Angbazo, who is the Chief Executive Officer, General Electric, said his firm had trained SMEs and integrated them into its value chain as local suppliers.
He said the training from GE empowered the SMEs to create products that could also be exported.
The Managing Director, Procter & Gamble Nigeria, Mr. Adil Farhat, described brands from the firm as part of a social fabric that touched many lives.
He said the firm had a sound educational policy targeted at one million girls and a medical policy under the Pampers brand that took care of mothers.
Farhat said P&G imbibed a culture of graduate internship, hiring fresh graduates to take its business as deep into Nigeria as possible.
Also speaking, Prof. Paul Nwulu, Programs Officer reprsenting the Director, Ford Foundation, West Africa, Mr Innocent Chukwuma, said that the foundation had embarked on local staffing to make impact on the local communities and increase monitoring of its programs in the Niger Delta and other regions with a strong gender focus where women were given priority consideration.
The Chief Executive Officer, Afrinolly Creative Hub, Chike Maduegbuna, who said he had benefited from empowerment of American firms including Google, Ford Foundation and Facebook, said that the key thing for American firms was finding local partners and using them to develop the entire region.
In his welcome address at the meeting, the National President, NACC, Otunba Toyin Akomolafe, remarked that the topic of the meeting was significant in many ways.
He added that it was becoming increasingly clear that the traditional way of solving social problems solely through governments was not working and businesses were globally inching towards business models that challenged the notion of profit first.
He said, “Within the Nigeria business space, impact investing is a contemporary and contextual issue to all stakeholders including the government, the general public and the corporation itself.”

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