SME Business Segments


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

Early Findings


  • In Nigeria, SMEs make up about 97% of the economy.
  • "SME businesses involve very small micro-firms run by one or two persons and very slow growth or no growth to fast-growing medium businesses earning millions of dollars and majority employing as many as 250 employees."
  • "Education, Manufacturing, and Wholesale/Retail Trade make up 68% of small enterprises. "
  • "Manufacturing, Wholesale/Retail Trade, and Human Health & Social Works make up 68% of medium enterprises."
  • 65% of Nigerian SMEs have a sole proprietorship, while 21% are owned by private limited liability companies.
  • Manufacturing has one of the highest sectors of employment at 607,498.
  • "51% of SME owners have attained either a Bachelor's or Master’s degree."
  • Segments with the highest skills shortage are accommodation & Food Services (32.6%) and other services activities (36.2%).

Small Enterprise Composition of Requested Segments:

  • Manufacturing (23%)
  • Wholesale/Retail Trade (18%)
  • Accommodation & Food Services (8%)
  • Other Services Activities (3%)

Medium Enterprise Composition of Requested Segments:

  • Manufacturing (43%)
  • Wholesale/Retail Trade (13%)
  • Accommodation & Food Services (9%)
  • Other Services (2%)

Opportunities and Challenges:

  • "There’s a widespread lack of capital and poor integration into the financial markets, which may be due to low business planning incidence and low formalization. Most enterprises are operating without legal & financial protection."
  • 65% of SMEs have no business plan and 63.9% of them are uninsured.
  • Access to finance is a top priority area for assistance for SMEs (67.9%%).
  • The main unfavorable policies for SMEs are high electricity tariffs, high taxes, and high-interest rates.
  • "SMEs face several "challenges ranging from power shortages, lack of capital, poor management skills and competencies, and inadequate information, and corruption."


  • For the initial hour, we tried identifying as much of the requested information as possible. We were mainly able to identify insights on the SME market in Nigeria as a whole. Insights specific to each segment did not appear immediately available in this search. We were also able to identify some early insights on opportunities and challenges.
  • We can continue the research to identify insights for UAE, Pakistan, South Africa, and Egypt.
  • Feel free to add or select an option below.

Proposed next steps:

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