PH Business Linkages Forum: Rivers SMEs Urged To Explore Networking For Growth As globalization continues to open up more opportunities for business expansion all over the world, business owners in Rivers State in particular and Niger Delta at large have been advised to take advantage of networking and digital marketing to grow their businesses and make more money. The advice was given at the 4th Business Linkages Forum with the theme: Linking SMEs to Global Value Chains, organized by Wider Perspectives Limited in collaboration with the Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (PHCCIMA) on Thursday, 29 August, 2019 at Azny Place, GRA Phase III, Port Harcourt. The programme, which featured entrepreneurship experts, digital/online business gurus, captains of industries and officials of Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC), National Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON), Bank of Industry (BOI), Nigeria Export Import (NEXIM) bank, Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta (PIND) and SMEDAN as resource persons, had a lot of participants from Rivers State in particular and other parts of the Niger Delta Region in attendance. During the programme, participants were told how to link their businesses to global value chains that will enable them explore the benefits such networking offers as well as the risks involved when due processes are not followed. Sharing their various experiences, the resource persons explained the nitty-gritty of their fields of business specialization ranging from digital/online services to manufacturing, marketing, export, processing and mentoring. In his presentation, Mr Tuoyo Blessing, who represented the Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta (PIND) said the group, which was set up in 2010 by Chevron Corporation for conflict resolution and partnership in the Niger Delta, has been assisting farmers in the region while partnering with SMEDANs to achieve its goals. The President of Port Harcourt Chamber Of Commerce, Chief Nabil Saleh represented by the Chairman, Professionals and Consultants Trade Group, Mr Clement Akanibo, said the gathering demonstrated a strong desire by PHCCIMA to build bridges across the business community, adding that irrespective of how small a business is, their desire is to see it grow and ensure that businesses thrive. He said that presently, there are millions of micro business entrepreneurs in Nigeria contributing almost half of the nation’s GDP to the tune of 47.8 % and 7.2% in terms of export, which underscore their importance to the nation’s economy. “No wonder they are creating room for growth and economic prosperity in Nigeria today. We believe that together, we shall change the economy of Nigeria to be stronger and bigger. “May I therefore, on behalf of Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, congratulate all of you here present, especially our partners, the initiator of this programme, Messrs. Wider Perspectives Ltd. for the bold steps in making key business operators meet in the state. Let me assure you that the impact of our gathering today will be discussed long after today,” he said. Earlier in her address, Mrs Edughom Hanson, Managing Director, Wider Perspectives, said the idea to organize a business linkages forum was informed by the need to promote SME Development by connecting SMEs to large buyers thereby facilitating business linkages, adding that the objectives of the forum include access to finance, wealth and job creation, market linkages, export opportunities and networking through interactions. “We are glad to state that an appreciable success has been recorded by some of the SMEs that participated in the first, second and third editions…Through linkages with large and established enterprises, emerging entrepreneurs and small businesses have a great chance of growth. It is believed that business linkages have great tendencies to integrate the various players within the value chain. This will bring about social and economic impacts in the wider community,” she explained further. In his special remark, Mr Kalada Apiafi, chairman of Wider Perspectives Ltd, said: “One of the ways we can solve our problems in Nigeria is for each individual to make his life a mission, not an intervention,” adding that they are not daunted by the SME challenges they are facing. Mr Apiafi thanked the partners, resource persons and participants for making the Forum a success. There was an exhibition of SMEs and their products and services. The programme also featured a technical session that included a panel discussion on the topic: Maximizing Opportunities in Global Value Chains. The panelists included Dr Uche Maraizu, CEO, Palm Nectars Breweries Ltd, Prince Joel Williams, Associate Partner, Prince Joel and Associates, Mr Tuoyo Blessing of PIND, Mr Charles Amanze PhD, President, Mion Global Group and Mr Toyin Alabi, CEO of The Promise. There were also questions and answers session and participants of the forum said the Business Linkages Forum 2019 With the Theme: Linking SME's To Global Value Chains provided value, new linkages, cutting-edge products and services, networking and impartations that will be instrumental to advancing businesses, and the impact will linger for a long time to come. The presence of high valued personalities and business entities like NEPC, NAFDAC, SON, BOI, BOA, NEXIM, PHCCIMA, among others was monumental and added further imperatives to the event.