SME Business Segments


To understand SME business segments (wholesale/retail, food and accommodation, manufacturing, and gig workers/services) in the UAE, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Africa, and Egypt, particularly, to understand the typical number of employees, types of activities that they are involved in, nature of their business, key opportunities, and challenges in each segment.

Early Findings



  • In terms of the number of enterprises, SMEs represent about 90% of the manufacturing/ industrial sector.
  • "According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the Nigerian manufacturing sector is dominated by the production of food, beverages, and tobacco, with sugar and bread products generating the greatest value of output."
  • "The government’s industrialization focus is on small and medium scale enterprises and is one of the five key execution priorities of its four-year Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP)."
  • "For manufacturing and processing, phase one of the ERGP focus labs sought to unlock investment commitments in the food manufacturing, textile, garments and leather industry, mining and downstream activities, petrochemical industry, general manufacturing, and industrial parks," which are also recommended areas of focus for potential investors interested in the Nigerian industrial sectors.
  • "Other opportunities emanate from the imported manufactured products currently prohibited by the Nigeria Customs Service. Foreign investors who chose to invest in domestically manufacturing goods, such as refined vegetable oils and fats, cocoa butter, powder and cakes, spaghetti noodles, fruit juices and others (from the imported manufactured products currently prohibited by the Nigeria Customs Service) have a good chance of receiving support from the Nigerian government.
  • The manufacturing segment in Nigeria has several challenges including power supply, regulatory issues, taxation concerns, trade facilitation issues, infrastructural deficiencies, and others.

Food and Restaurant Sector

  • "The growth in the fast-food industry in Nigeria has been a key contributor to the Nigerian economy through the creation of employment opportunities for Nigerians. According to a report by the Oxford Business Group, as of 2014, there were over 500,000 workers employed in the fast-food industry."
  • The food processing sector is also one of the best-performing industries in Nigeria, this sector locally sources products and has innovated in different categories such as noodles, dairy, baked goods, poultry, pasta, rice, and noodles. The food processing sector has also played a major role in the development of the agriculture sector.
  • Some challenges in the sector relate to the government crackdown on the import of low-quality foodstuff, which is often smuggled in, and in screening food more carefully in local markets. The government also committed to lowering tariffs on imported nutrient pre-mixes used to fortify food, as the Nigerian government mandated that food staples be fortified with nutrients due to malnutrition concerns in the population in 2002.
  • Opportunities in the food industry sector relate to providing products or services that help solve health and food problems in Nigeria.


  • For the initial hour, we were mainly able to identify some insights for the manufacturing segment in Nigeria. We were able to identify early insights on the types of activities that they are involved in, the nature of their business, key opportunities, and challenges. Insights on the typical number of employees did not appear immediately available.
  • We were also able to find some insights on the food/restaurant industry sector, however, there appeared to be a lot of overlap with other segments, such as manufacturing and agriculture.
  • We also found that wholesale/retail trade and manufacturing were among the top three economic SME sectors in Nigeria. We can continue the research to identify insights on the wholesale/retail trade sector and the accommodation sector in Nigeria as well as continue the research to identify insights for the other requested countries.
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