The Integrity Organisation/Convention on Business Integrity (CBi) in partnership with the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) and the United Nations Global Compact Network Nigeria (UNGC Network Nigeria) yesterday announced the launch of a Small and Medium sized Enterprise (SME) Anti-Corruption and Corporate Governance Standards Project.
The initiative known as the “SME Future-Forward Project” is financed by the MacArthur Foundation.
According to a statement, the project seeks to set standards for corporate governance, ethics, and sustainability to guide the direction, control, and management of SMEs in Nigeria, enhance their competitiveness, and achieve long-term success and value creation responsibly and sustainably.
“It is estimated that SMEs constitute 96 per cent of businesses in Nigeria. These enterprises are largely poorly governed, making it difficult to secure the capital needed for growth.
“Moreover, Nigeria’s challenging business environment creates pressures to adopt practices where complacency, shortcuts, corruption, nepotism, and discrimination flourish.
“These practices create a cyclical effect, compromising SMEs’ ability to achieve and sustain high-performance outcomes, hobbling their ability to source funds, and eroding their capacity to compete in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and beyond.
“The SME Governance Standards Project intends to change this narrative. Using a data-driven approach, FRC, CBi and UNGC-NN will, through this Project, develop a replicable and scalable framework to enhance good corporate governance (anti-corruption, sustainability, and social equity inclusive) practices that would lead to a value creation strategy for all SMEs in Nigeria and increase their competitiveness, survival, growth, and succession,” it added.
The statement noted that during the project’s initial implementation, participating Future-Forward Companies would receive hands-on personalised guidance and assistance to comply with the standards.
“Given the pivotal role SMEs play in driving Nigeria’s economic development, poverty reduction, job creation, economic emancipation, and overall well-being, the Project seeks to prove that it is possible – and profitable – for small businesses to do the right things, the right way, in the Nigerian marketplace.
“The FRC is a government agency whose mandate is to develop, publish, and regulate public interest entities’ accounting and financial reporting standards.
“Beyond its technical and regulatory function in accounting and auditing matters, the FRC works to ensure good corporate governance practices in the public and private sectors, protect investor and stakeholder interests, promote private sector growth, reduce market volatility, and improve national employment rates, and more.
“FRC is a key stakeholder in the push for a transparent, credible business environment in Nigeria.
“The United Nations Global Compact Network Nigeria is one of the 74 local networks (country offices) of the United Nations Global Compact, the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative,” it added.