The Executive Chairman said for a long time now the country has been starving of the most important line of production and it is time to build it up so that the country will move in the right direction.
“Small businesses can’t thrive without a strong and growing middle class, something we continue to lack. An increasing body of research shows the link between a vibrant middle class and a healthy economy. It was a key ingredient that fueled European prosperity throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.”
Mr Fadika says a thriving middle class is necessary for more than just driving economic growth. It’s the only way to lift millions of Africans out of abject poverty through inclusive social and economic policies that work for all.
“We must do more to build on the recent successes in increasing entrepreneurship and to pursue policies that lift more of our citizens out of poverty, where too many of them reside.”
This he said has been the dream of African Minerals now Shandong Iron and Steel that have employed thousands of Sierra Leoneans and given many more contracts as these contractors too employ Sierra Leoneans to work for them. Some of them he said today have started their own business.
“In order to capitalize on the demographics and keep the pace of economic growth high, governments need to implement strategies that enhance entrepreneurship, the capabilities of SMEs and the middle class.”
The Executive Chairman says Nigeria leads the way with policies and government programs such as the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund implemented by the country’s central bank. While its main purpose was to support small businesses, it has helped build a Nigerian middle class as well.
He averred that too many government policies have instead focused on luring large multinational companies. While they do contribute to overall gross domestic product, these multinationals do little to facilitate local economic development.
“In order to avoid such economic vulnerabilities, and in order to build a strong middle-class economy, it is imperative that the government find ways of formalizing and integrating more small businesses into the formal economy.”
Private initiatives he said need to be backed up by a strong political will to support small businesses with subsidies. Such practices will encourage local communities and investors to invest and work with local businesses and ultimately help build the middle class.
Fadika ended up by saying that the middle class economy in Asierra Leone requires a multi-stakeholder approach that includes government and private businesses. If the right policies are followed, investors will then know that the future and success of our economy is in the middle class and the small-and medium-sized enterprises it supports.