How Small enterprises and e-commerce will drive economic development

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Hennie Heymans

The drivers of any advanced economy are the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and the case of Africa, particularly Nigeria will not be different. The Managing Director, DHL Express, Sub Saharan Africa, Hennie Heymans, holds same position at an interactive session with journalists at the head office in Lagos.

Heymans observed that getting the SMEs going is Africa’s best bet to key into the global e-Commerce industry, adding that DHL has observed in Nigeria the resilience of the entrepreneurs, adding that the nation could have suffered when oil price dropped down to $29, but for the amazing flexibility of entrepreneurs.

Heymans said “We have seen the effects of declining commodity prices… We saw SMEs just stepping up their roles. It means lesser reliance on commodities, which is critically important. It also means their diversification has gained traction in the local economy. As we get the entrepreneurs into the market, we are starting to see some real economic benefit from it.”

The DHL boss, however, noted that e-Commerce seems to be the auspicious strategy to move the SMEs forward. He expressed the company’s readiness to engage with authorities and other stakeholders to leverage DHL global experience to facilitate the opportunities that electronic trading represent in a better and swift manner.

“Looking at the statistics at the moment, Africa makes up less than two percent of the global e-Commerce space and we should make up to 19 per cent. That is a fantastic opportunity for Nigeria with 89 per cent Internet penetration.”

To support SMEs, Heymans disclosed that one of the initiatives of the company is the training provided to them in the country. DHL holds free training sessions where it helps the SMEs understand what it means to take products across borders, what they need to look out for, and what are some of the mechanisms that they can apply and utilise in order to take themselves across border so that they can benefits.