The world is in uncharted territories. Everybody was caught unawares as the novel Coronavirus sneaked into the planet and disrupted the global economic structure, leaving world leaders confused and business giants struggling to survive.
Now everyone is on their toes. Businesses are under pressure to shed staff strength while some are cutting salaries as revenue takes a nosedive. Workers, on the other hand, are looking for new opportunities – acquiring new skills and starting new businesses.
Understandably, with the obvious scarce resources everywhere, it has become sacrosanct for most people to live on a budget.
The situation is the same in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation. With the Federal Government’s Covid-19 palliatives hardly reaching 1% of the country’s over 200 million population, many are on a tight budget and are looking for different ways to maneuver this harsh reality.
In light of these challenges, Business Elites Africa (BEA) put together 3 lucrative and scalable small businesses (in no particular order) that you can start on a lean budget.
If there is anything the Covid-19 pandemic has proven over again, it is that even if the world is ending, there would still be high demand for food – at least something to keep one alive until the owner of life takes it.
The good thing about the food business is that you can choose the scale you want to start – whether very small, mid-size or big – there is a market for all.
According to a 2016 report by the Association of Fast Food and Confectioners of Nigerian (AFFCON), an umbrella body of Quick Service Restaurants (QSR), Nigerian food industry is estimated to worth over a trillion Naira, with the Fast Food segment gulping over N250 billion, and this number has since gone up.
However, there are different approaches to this business. You have to decide whether you want to sell raw foods, cooked foods, snacks and drinks or organic foods.
How do I determine which area to specialise in? You may ask.
First, let us examine areas of the business that are seemingly oversaturated. That would be the cooked, snacks and raw foods segment – this leaves us with organic foods.
Over the years, people are increasingly paying attention to their health and wellness as sicknesses and diseases become rampant. This is why there is a surge in the demand for healthy eating and food.
This is also the reason gym and fitness businesses are cashing out big time.
So, we recommend that you consider selling fruits/smoothies, Oat flour/cereal, Wheat, Granola, Pap, Yoghurt, and likes.
Having said this, strategic location is everything about the food business. So whether it is raw food or cooked food that interests you, consider the location you want to operate from. Better still, start with online operations and grow from there.
It is however important that you do due diligence before making a decision – acquire relevant skills and do your feasibility studies.
This business is basically buying and selling on the internet. One can either sell physical products or digital products, or both.
There is no doubt that serious trading has moved to the internet, Covid-19 made sure of this. Millions of Naira and Dollars are exchanging hands online as we write. Ecommerce is indeed the new oil if you know your way around the internet.
According to a 2020 survey done by Statista, Nigeria had 99.05 million internet users so far this year. The figure is projected to grow to 131.7 million internet users in 2023. The internet penetration amounted to 46.6 percent of the population in 2020 and is set to reach 65.2 percent in 2025.
This is why you need to be selling something on the internet.
Just like traditional trading, Ecommerce is buying cheap from one market and selling high or at a good profit margin to another market.
Expectedly, since online trading has become a big deal, the space is now an Idumota of sort – clustered and clumsy – yet we have barely scratched the surface.
How to separate yourself from the pack and owning your own space is selling a unique product. The kind of product that is not sold by many people online and scarce in brick-and-mortar stores. Niche market and Facebook marketing are the key to succeeding in this business.
Finding the right product, however, requires painstaking research.
Use Google search, Amazon, Quality Value Convenience (QVC), As seen on TV, Kickstarter among others to find ‘Hotselling products’ or ‘best selling’ products. Take note of all the products that you think would sell in Nigeria or in the country you live. Then run these product ideas through the following parameters:
i. The product must be hard to find in your locality
ii. The weight must not be more than 1kg or 2kg at most
iii. The product must solve a problem
iv. It should be easy to package and should not be fragile
v. It should not be seasonal
vi. The product should be cheap – not more than $10
The products that check out should then be considered as the potential right product to import from China. Why China? The Asian nation is the global destination for product sourcing.
The recommended Chinese sites you can find the product ideas you shortlisted are Alibaba, Aliexpress, and Made in China. The best suppliers for your product are on these sites and one must also be careful of impostors. Once you find a satisfactory supplier, do not import more than 50 pieces of the preferred product, to test the market.
If you live in Nigeria, you may source products at the local markets temporarily, until the foreign exchange crisis blows over. The biggest wholesale markets in Nigeria include; Lagos Island, Arena, Oshodi in Lagos, Onitsha in Anambra State and Aba in Abia State.
Handmade Shoes/Importation of Shoe Soles
Shoes are essential commodities just like food, clothing, and shelter. People inevitably wear shoes. And in the past few years, handmade shoes in Nigeria has experienced a steady rise and enjoyed an unprecedented level of patronage from Nigerians, who before now preferred to wear foreign-made shoes. The demand for Nigerian-made shoes has gone beyond the country, they are now in high demand in many African countries and the United States and because of the surge in sales, the demand for raw materials has also skyrocketed.
And with the Covid-19 crisis that is making importation of finished products more cumbersome, local production is witnessing a boost.
Basically, shoe materials, which include; Leathers, soles, Adhesive among others, are imported from Italy, Spain, and China, into two major markets in Nigeria – Aba in Abia State and Mushin in Lagos. Thousands of shoemakers and owners of shoe brands flood this market daily.
In other words, these are ready-made markets, with hungry and money-in-hand buyers that are ready spend.
So, the two ways one can cash out in this business is to either own a shoe factory/brand or import raw materials to these markets.
Do you need to be a shoemaker to own a shoe brand/factory? No. All you need to do is find good artisans, give them your designs and guide them until they deliver to your taste. Averagely it costs N7000 to N8000 to produce a pair of shoes if you are engaging an artisan. The cost includes raw materials and labour. We recommend that you have inside knowledge of the markets and the production process before you invest in the business.
However, before you start any business in Nigeria or elsewhere, your first assignment is to find a starving market. After that, find the need of that market and meet it. People would literally beg you to take their money. Do not ignore this.