PHCCIMA, E AND I CENTRE PARTNER TO OPEN NEW IMPERATIVES FOR BUSINESS LINKAGES

There has been a staked consensus on the need for locally-based enterprises operating in Rivers state to be carried along in economic schemes presently ongoing in the state, one that is beyond financial growth or rewards, but also for developmental and societal growth to facilitate employment creation, generate more internally generated revenue and stimulate the economy. This was the focus as Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce, in collaboration with Entrepreneurship and Innovation Centre organized a one-day business relationship building and partnership brokering event tagged: Rivers local Enterprise Development Business Linkages Workshop at the PHCCIMA Conference hall. Speaking on behalf of the PHCCIMA President, Chief Nabil Saleh whom she said was unavoidably absent, PHCCIMA’s  2nd Deputy President, Dr Chinyere Nwoga in her welcome address, said the need for business linkages and business connections cannot be over-emphasize, this according to her is why the present administration has continued to make effort to providing support for growing businesses of member companies via exploring possible avenues with partner organization. She noted that PHCCIMA is aware of the constraints that control local businesses, which includes deficiency in human and financial resources, and lack of access to the bigger corporations. This she said is why the chamber serves as a bridge by creating platforms for an interface between stakeholders like the workshop today. She emphasized the need for the bigger corporations to join the chamber who has the capacity, competence, and hunger for higher-level facilitation. While enumerating some of the imperatives of PHCCIMA as the 2nd largest chamber of commerce, first e-chamber of commerce in the country, and one housing a One-Stop-Shop with various federal agencies and business entities, providing advocacy, advisory, mentorship, and a direct communication link with government; partnership with embassies, trade missions among others, the PHCCIMA 2nd Deputy President expressed belief that today’s workshop will open new frontiers of business opportunities that will translate to increased employment and stimulation of local economy. Making his remark, the Managing Partner/CEO of E and I Centre, Mr. Chika Chinwah said the Rivers local Enterprise Development Business Linkages Workshop is one of the strategies through which E and I, Port Harcourt chamber of commerce and other key partners seeks to broaden its outreach activities, particularly to large corporations and multinationals in Rivers state and Niger Delta. He said the objective is to provide a platform for local enterprises to establish sustainable business relationships with large multinational and corporate buyers of goods and services in the state, as well as providing an avenue for local small enterprises to learn how to competitively deliver quality goods and services to large corporate buyers in the region, leading to growth and expansion for the small local firms and optimization of efficiency for large enterprise. Other include to promote the business linkages approach to local enterprise development and encourage more local sourcing of inputs by corporate and government agencies operating in Rivers state and Niger Delta. He said the overall idea is to ensure that there is a level playing ground for every business to conduct their activities as long as it improves and contributes to the overall objective of the business and economic growth, employment and empowerment of the people. In his keynote address, the former commissioner for employment generation and economic empowerment, Dr. Leloonu Nwibubasa said the Theme for the event: Driving Sustainable Participation of Rivers Local Enterprises in the Corporate Business Environment of Rivers state and the Niger Delta”, as apt. According to him, Rivers state is in dare need of drivers, hence this workshop is aimed at proffering solutions that will entrench needed drivers to help stimulate the Rivers economy’ He said the function of government is to provide seamless policies and an enabling environment for business to thrive, as people we must bring economic leaders to the position of responsibility to help drive and advance the economy of Rivers State. According to Nwibubasa, to successfully drive the economy of Rivers state, we need to believe in the state and show all sense of patriotism. Listen to him: “You cannot be doing business in a place you believe is not right and conducive, and expect it to blossom". We must believe we are in the right environment and work towards that belief to get a result. He said and Niger Delta is the best place to do business because places like Lagos is saturated and the competition is high. He also spoke on dynamism; saying, there is a need for our business to change with changing times, we must build capacity to meet up with global opportunities and bring about rare dynamism needed to succeed. Thirdly, called for greater collaborations, this he said is key because with collaborations things can be done easier and results more achievable. The government alone cannot employ everybody, hence the private sector and government must come together in collaboration to tinker a way forward as stakeholders to stimulate the local economy to provide employment. "We need platforms and frameworks like this workshop as provided by PHCCIMA under the visionary leadership of Chief Nabil Saleh who has demonstrated the capacity to help drive this value proposition. Dr. Nwibubasa, moted that beyond oil and gas there are enormous opportunities in Tourism Agriculture; and technology, hence the workshop is a greater imperative to stimulating Rivers economy. Rivers government according to him is creating a robust business environment, and the state Governor, Chief Barr Nyesom Wike is not relenting also in his quest to expand agricultural potentials in the state. Others who spoke include Otunba Femi Adewunmi, MD/CEO of Prime Port logistics who described Rivers state as a land of unquantifiable opportunities. He said there is a lot of gap waiting to be filled and residing in Rivers state has given his company the competitive edge over other competitors. He advocated the need for us to put structures on the ground if we hope to succeed, build our capacities to position ourselves favourably , focus on our catchment areas and be patriotic and patient to larch on available opportunities. There were also presentations by the Assistant General Manager, Guaranty Trust Bank, Glory Esejiobor, who opened the eyes of participants to financial opportunities in the bank, also by John Lanre of River Local Enterprise Development and Business Linkages, RIVLED, West African Oilfield Services (WAOS), and the Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta (PIND). Crucial to the event also was a brief speech by the PIND project Lead, Niger Delta Youth Employment Pathways, Emeka Ille who said “PIND is implementing the NDYEP project in Rivers states, with the goal to map the ecosystem of skills development, analyze opportunities for employment creation and to develop models of youth job-readiness or workforce development and get them job placements that are relevant to their skills. This according to him is to provide young men and women in the Niger Delta the opportunity to either commence business enterprises or secure sustainable jobs through quality training that prepares them with market-relevant skills. The highlight of the event was the presentation of opportunities talk during the break out session of various sectors including Construction, Agribusiness, Technology, Services, Energy and manufacturing which brought to fore various opportunities available within the sector that smaller companies can take advantage of and do more business within the sector. The break out session was able to identify steps and what it takes for these local enterprises to be able to participate and tap into these opportunities. There was consensus by participants that the workshop was invaluable and apt, having identified that the environment is saturated with players who can wield their influence and resources to get what they need, thereby stifling and silencing these smaller enterprises. The event which featured representatives of the Rivers state Ministry of Commerce via the Director of Special duties, Mr Paul Damgbor, and a Director from the ministry of Agriculture, Ogolo, including multinational oil and gas companies, banks, development entities, valued PHCCIMA members, and also witnessed the presence of PHCCIMA Financial Secretary, Arc Oriaku Hanson Oyet- lle, and Publicity Secretary, Mrs. Mercy Bello Abu, and the Director-General, Mr. Erasmus Chukunda