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#My9jaHustle: Ikenna Chidoka Promoting SBOs Across Nigeria

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BY ANTHONY ADA ABRAHAM

Small business owners start their trade to mostly feed themselves. Small businesses do not scale up like a start-up, they make small decision and usually operate the business themselves. Small business owners walk on the right ropes with a safety net underneath. They are usually the bedrock of local economies. People normally think that small businesses are retail and some franchise owner, but with internet, there are other options such as e-commerce, drop shipping, consulting and freelancing.

With the help of technological advancement, technological startups which turned corporations have helped many small businesses in many ways. For example, the Wok Shop has been with Amazon since 1999 and has been growing her business with Amazon.

This is the dream Mr Iknna Chidoka want materialised, to see small businesses and business owners stand on their own. Even as a successful businessman, he feels his dream would be incomplete without bringing those people who are not really regarded in the market place (the Small Business Owners) to the peak, hence his conceptualisation of The Small Business Owners Initiative (TSBOI).

The handsome young, calm and outspoken businessman started business when he was just 16-year old, selling cigarette from Cotonou to Largos. Then he moved to Abuja in 1993. He was awarded his first contract by cleaning the Wuse Market by Abuja Environmental. He published a renowned magazine known as 180 Excel and own Red Scorpio Rum, a rum company in his home town, Obosi, Berrylux Paint Ltd and Berrylux Travels where they issue visas and applications to people.

He was motivated to use his connect to help small businesses excel while making profits and selling their goods at an affordable prices.

Though his targets are centred mostly on online businesses, his idea is to continue organising fairs for the business owners periodically.

“Visibility and capital is the greatest problem of a small Business owner. People know you are there and you are having access to cheap capital. If you don’t have any titled documents, you can never access loan from any bank or Bank Of Industry. In a way, it limits you. That means if you are poor you are poor.

If you approach the bank , they claim they can loan you N2M-N3M without collateral, now they will tell you to run your account for the next six months , they want to see the inflows. By the time you finish, they would just offer you N50,000 or a N100,000 which can’t even advance your business from here to the next level.

“And I believe that sales is the greatest form of capital for any small business owner. You need to keep on making sales and even projected sales. The idea of having this fair is that a lot of small business owners are complaining about lack of patronage and because they don’t have the money of renting a shop, or even venturing into their own personal fairs, I said fine, let me bring them together, connect them with people. Then people will now help them make quick sales because my views about business is sell it at an affordable rate or interest, in that way, you make quick sales which is far better than having stock because stock ties down your capital. That was the whole idea of organising the fair based on my experience,” recounts speaking on other issues.

“Also, by the time they see these sets of people working well and making good sales, Bank of Industry or CBN can step in with small business loans to augment their businesses. I want them to come and mingle with other business owners, network and sell their product on a discounted rate, ” he explained.

With the success of the recently held first edition in Abuja tagged “#Myabjhustle” at River Plate Park, Wuse 2 on the 26th of May 2019 which was graces by about 35 vendors from various online businesses, the patrons(customers) who turned out were not disappointed and they got a lot of things to buy at a very affordable price.

Mr Chidoka said The Small Business Owners Initiative (TSBOI) event was conceptualised to connect people with products and services of online based businesses through fairs.

“Creating the physical environment for producers and customers to meet and mingle. We believe nothing still beats the face to face meetings as regards sales. It creates trust among parties. The fair has come free to both vendors and attendees. By this way we are creating immeasurable reach to our corporate sponsors.

“As part of giving back, our system is also designed for business owners to make some money through their social media handles when they share adverts from our platforms. The money can be used to pay utilities on our site or they can simply just withdraw the money,” he opened up.

Though Mr Ikenna Chidoka has been singlehandedly sponsoring this project  since 2015 which he made free for the Vendors, he believes that sponsorship from bigger organisations and multinationals would help him achieve more and also carry more people along in the long run.

” I have never charged any vendor. It is done for free. Even the next expo is also free for vendors. We are hoping we wouldn’t charge vendors and people coming for the fairs. We are hoping and looking for corporate sponsors to tag along with us based on the track record they see.”

He said based on the success of the Abuja event, they have decided to take it national.

“Our plans is to be having 36 events simultaneously across the 36 states. Every quarter we would be having what is called the National Small Business Owners Expo Week. Every quarter, they come together to exhibit what they have. They invite people to buy, make connections etc.”

With the many successes recorded by TSBOI , there would be a National Small Business Owners Expo Week, which holds on December 6 – 8, 2019 in Kano, Abuja, Owerri and Lagos simultaneously, something that has never been done before. The Expo is to promote the importance of small businesses in Nigerian communities, hence the name #My9jaHustle.

 

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