Executive Secretary of the Delta State Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency, Barrister Orezi Esievo, has said that though the invasion of the deadly coronavirus on the global economy disrupted businesses and key sectors, it, however, paved way for accelerated deployment of the information and communication technology tools in business operations globally.
Barrister Esievo told a section of journalists that the COVID-19 pandemic affected the global and local economy but it gave rise to the use of ICT tools to boost business, market and sell products, in compliance with the global rules of social distancing and help in driving the economy for sustainability.
According to her, prior to the COVID-19, only a few people knew about and used Zoom, Web Ex and other online communication tools but with the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing people into social distancing and observance of some other health protocols, meetings, conferences and businesses, even schools began remote learning and trading.
With this development, she said while people were complaining of no money as a result of the virus, the owners of zoom became automatic billionaires and their stocks soared with attendant profit for shareholders. Perfect timing right?
The Executive Secretary to the governor said people who had not heard of zoom before the pandemic, had no option but to resort to the technology if they must continue in their business meetings, conferences and other discussions.
She said: “A good side to COVID-19 is that it has enhanced the capabilities of MSMEs to do business through IT. Today, the value chains of production, processing, packaging and delivery have been unlocked and accelerated through IT.
There is a lot that is going on through zoom and other social media platforms”.
The DEMSMA Boss added: “When COVID started and masks were to be made, Delta State Government instructed that MSMEs should be the ones to produce masks and that created jobs and income for many MSMEs in Delta state.
“In our programmes for MSMEs in Delta state, we are leveraging on ICT to enhance the capabilities of our businesses. One of the things we are planning to do is to set up a platform, an E- market, where MSMEs can trade on goods, and services online, network and benchmark with best practices.
“We will also leverage on IT through Geodata for agricultural development, effective management information systems that will enable the agency keep abreast with loan transactions, establish and maintain market linkages and product pricing to increase farmers income and livelihood.
“When we started our drive for 2020 at the agency, our priority areas were, first, ICT. Second was agriculture; cluster development, agri-business and agro-processing, and the third was creative industries for women. So, when COIVD-19 happened, we saw it as an opportunity to engage people even in their homes, using ICT tools. We made them to know that there is hope. You can still sell your wares and products with IT”
Barrister Esievo noted that she came into office in November 2019 but the office job started picking up between January and February when the coronavirus came in March and disrupted work.
But in the midst of the seeming setback, “we had the Covid-19 recovery webinar series for MSMEs in the state, where captains of industries, government officials, business and financial experts, local entrepreneurs, SMEDAN, NIRSAL, NEXIM Bank and global experts from UNIDO were part of the resource persons who taught MSMEs on how to grow their businesses and have access to credit facilities, internationally and locally for sustainability.
“I remember the first webinar series , we organized, over 179 participants hooked up, the second was over 300, while the third edition had about 500 MSMEs who attended the trainings.
“We also have established in March, an MSME Today Facebook group, open all MSMEs in Delta state.
This is a networking and interactive platform for business support, mentorship, extension and advisory services to MSMEs.”