1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Small and medium scale enterprises are the engine that drives most economies of the world. Their importance to the economy of Nigeria cannot be overlooked. SMEs activities-both international and local have contributed immensely to the gross domestic product in the economy as they participate in manufacturing, importation, exportation, employment etc. According to Gono (2013), SMEs contribute to output and employment creation and they are also a nursery for the larger firms of the future. The most successful developing country over the last 50 years, Taiwan is built on a dynamic SME sector. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have played a significant role in Taiwan‟s economic development in expanding exports and providing jobs. The need to harmonize accounting reporting standards for organizations operating around the world has prompted the Central bank of Nigeria to set January 2014 as deadline for adoption of the International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS) for small and medium scale enterprises in Nigeria.
This mandate has posed a lot of questions on the awareness, readiness and financial ability of SME operators to comply with the new accounting reporting standards. This new era where globalization is fast becoming real, it is imperative to investigate the effect the IFRS adoption possess on small and medium scale enterprises as they have a key role to play in international trade in Nigeria. According to OECD (2012), the level of which globalization aect SMEs is a function of their engagement in exporting activities. This is particularly the case of SMEs in Nigeria, as Nigeria is a major exporter of agricultural produce.The introduction of IFRS in Nigeria and the current state of globalization simply means that SMEs cannot continue with local standards for financial reporting purposes. For SMEs involved in international trade with subsidiaries and franchises in other countries to be more successful internationally, it must comply with the IFRS guidelines.
As a result of the harmonization of accounting reporting standards, the adoption of the IFRS has been widely accepted by various countries of the world. However, the full IFRS promulgated by the IASB has been found to be irrelevant due to the disclosure requirements, which are extensive for SMEs. For this reason, the IASB promulgated a simplified version of the IFRS applicable to SMEs-the IFRS for SMEs. As a result of broad discussion of SMEs and common standards for SMEs worldwide, the International Accounting Standard Board (IASB) introduced an International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS) designed for use by small and medium-sized entities (SMEs) on July 9, 2009 (International Accounting Standards Board, 2010). The introduction of IFRS specifically for SMEs was necessitated by many challenges faced by these entities in adopting full IFRSs in financial reporting, the main of which was the excessive disclosure requirements, based on a cost-benefit analysis for SMEs (Nazri, 2010).
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
In Nigeria, the greatest challenge facing small and medium scale enterprises is access to finance. SMEs as the engine of the economy have the full potentials to turn the economy around for the better, but their greatest challenge still remains underfinance. With the introduction of IFRS, SMEs in Nigeria are mandated to adopt the new reporting standard from January 2014. The awareness, acceptance and implementation of the new IFRS guidelines for SMEs are challenges for many African countries (Fortuin, 2011). Many businesses still do not understand what options are available and how IFRS for SMEs interplay to their benefit (Fortuin, 2011). This is an indication of the lack of awareness of the benefits accrued through the use of IFRS for SMEs which may in turn inhibit SMEs from adopting them. The results of the survey by Deloitte in 2009 revealed that 43% of SME respondents were not aware of the IASB’s standard IFRS for SMEs.Poor financial management and book-keeping are two major barriers confronting SMEs when it comes to accessing funds from financial institutions and government agencies. A study conducted by Gono (2013) revealed that most SMEs fail due to poor financial management and reporting. So it is important for SMEs to follow the current trend of financial reporting and enjoy the full benefits that are associated.