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PREX Global Network Forum:Room 1: Regional Revitalization and Industrial Development

 What are the trainees doing during the pandemic?

Presentation 1: Mr. Henry Ifeanyi Anwansedo, Nigeria “How I utilize the findings in Japan”

My findings

I work for the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Nigeria.

I participated in a JICA course related to promoting SMEs.  And I learned about many interesting case studies during the course.
However, my action plan mainly focused on the following things. Those are how the Tokyo Metropolitan Small and Medium Enterprise Support Center and Kobe City in Japan support startups, the characteristics of Japanese SMEs, SME promotion measures, and the role of the Japan Finance Corporation.

How I utilized them

After returning to my country, I briefed my superiors on the importance of establishing a small business support center. And I could also share what I learned in Japan with the people involved. The discussions I held with upper management led to us opening a small business support center in Lagos in 2020.

Influence of COVID-19 for SME Promtion

Providing services during the pandemic created some challenges. But we are looking to continue to provide ongoing support to SMEs in the future, such as developing apps for SMEs.
Despite challenges like being unable to provide face-to-face services during COVID-19, we will not give up on our efforts to provide ongoing support for SMEs and help connect them with consultants in Nigeria. 

Questions from Floor

Q1: Mr. Atsuyoshi Imamura, Management Office Imamura Ltd. 
“What is the issue for supporting SMEs?”
Henry’s presentation sparked my interest in the challenges behind supporting SMEs in Nigeria. In Japan, we have unique challenges related to aging amongst business managers. What unique issues are you facing in Nigeria?

A1: Henry Ifeanyi Anwansedo
The biggest challenge we face is that lending rates are still too high, meaning SMEs can’t access funding.
Also, we would like to companies to introduce new technologies, but there aren’t any pathways to obtain funding for this, so we need to do something about that.

Q2: Mr. Shintaro Yamamura, Sanyo Paper Co., Ltd.
“How the situation regarding the environment?”

I would like to ask both Henry and Fathimath. Could you give us us a rough sense of how much interest there is in SDGs in your countries?
Our company is working on environmentally conscious businesses, focusing on the reuse of paper, etc. So I would like to ask you about the situation regarding the environment in both of your countries.

A2: Henry Ifeanyi Anwansedo
Over the past few years, recycling, food loss, waste separation, etc. have become significant issues for Nigeria.
However, the national and local governments believe it is vital to raise awareness of these issues among residents.
Waste, in particular, is now a significant issue. Now schools are educating students to decide where to dispose of waste and how to separate it.
We’re in the process of putting laws in place preventing companies from disposing of waste in a way that causes environmental pollution. And relating organization are educating them on these matters.
We’re also in the process of forming partnerships with Japanese companies and asking them to share their know-how on how to recycle waste.

A2: Ms. Fathimath Sammah(next presenter from Maldives)
The SDGs are well known and of interest to many in my country.
In terms of challenges, the Maldives is a tourism-based country, and tourists produce a lot of waste.

So we have implemented methods of properly disposing of waste generated on individual islands on the islands themselves. Only waste that cannot be disposed of locally is taken to an island with special waste disposal facilities.

From an environmental perspective, the Maldives is now also promoting eco-tourism. Now we try to promote tours that are as eco-friendly and environmentally conscious as possible.
I have heard about Sanyo Paper Co.’s recycled paper. Recycled paper is also essential for eco-tourism, and I have used it myself. If your company is interested in exporting goods to the Maldives, we are sure there is a market, and we would be happy to use them.

Mr. Shintaro Yamamura, Sanyo Paper Co., Ltd.
I believe that SDGs and the environment are significant challenges worldwide. I would love to visit the Maldives if given the chance.

Q3: Mr. Yasuhiro Yamamoto, Tokyo Metropolitan Small and Medium Enterprise Support Center 
“Situation of Start-up in respective countries”

I would like to ask you about the trends regarding startups in your countries. It is because I help support startups in Tokyo.
However, there are so many regulations in this field. So, some entrepreneurs are considering starting businesses in less regulated places instead. How are things in your countries?

A3: Mr. Henry Ifeanyi Anwansedo
Nigeria has dose not have too many regulations, so establishing a business is straightforward.
We are also looking for partnerships with foreign companies. And the Nigerian Chamber of Commerce and Industry can help provide support for it. 
For example, we have a partnership with JETRO in Japan. So we would like to encourage everyone to contact the Nigerian Chamber of Commerce and Industry through JETRO.

A3: Ms. Fathimath Sammah
It’s easy to start businesses in the Maldives, too. There are not many regulations, and you can start a business if you meet the required standards.
And they can be 100% foreign-owned or co-founded with a Maldivian partner. Personally, I think the latter is the easiest way.

Presentation 2: Ms. Fathimath Sammah, Maldives “Japanese OMOTENASHI”

Japanese heart of OMOTENASHI

I originally worked for the Ministry of Tourism and now work at Maldives Airports Company Ltd. As you all know, one of our primary industries in the Maldives is tourism.
Despite all that has happened since COVID-19, the government has provided various measures, and tourism is steadily recovering.

I participated in JICA’s tourism promotion course, and the spirt of omotenashi (hospitality)  in Japan left a lasting impression on me.
For my understanding, omotenashi as a spirit of trying to provide more intangible services without expecting anything in return.
And this spirit of omotenashi is something I experienced during my training in Japan. The kindness of the Japanese people was the embodiment of the spirit of omotenashi, and it was an incredible experience for me.
I would like to to incorporate this experience into my work.

Questions from Floor

Q1: Mr. Kazuhiro Tashiro, Tashiro Coffee Co., Ltd.
“Business for SMEs”
A trainee from the Maldives came to visit us in another course.
This visit led to the opportunity to work with someone who wanted to establish a café in the Maldives.
We also had the opportunity to export coffee to the Maldives.
Despite some unexpected issues and being impacted by COVID-19, this individual has pivoted to selling their products to resort areas rather than starting a café.  I am wondering if it common for SMEs to sell their products to resort areas in the Maldives ?
Could you share  your idea?

A1: Ms. Fathimath Sammah
In most cases, wholesaling is often handled by large companies rather than directly by SMEs companies.
Therefore, if that individual is interested in selling products to resort areas, it would be better to find an intermediary who can connect the person to a large wholesale company .
That way would be better  than selling products as a stand-alone company.

Associate Professor Takumi Hirai (Facilitator)
I would li to  thank our Nigerian and Maldivian presenters for their time.
They answered many questions from the participants. Among the topics that came up were questions about how the SDGs are being received in these respective countries, startups, and relevant regulations.
Thank you to all participants for your cooperation and many questions.

To visit different room, please click below. 

Room 2: Corporate Management and Kaizen;
Mr. Toshio Ban, Representative, Sociobiz Research
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Room 3: Overseas Trade and Investment;
Dr. Kenta Goto, Professor, Faculty of Economics, Kansai University
-> Jump to Room Thee

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PREX Follow-up Team