COVID-19 as booster for small businesses
While some entrepreneurs are lamenting that COVID-19 has wrecked their businesses, some Nigerian cottage business operators have different song. The pandemic has provided a window of opportunity to repackage their products and connect with more people on the Internet and their neighbourhoods, thereby increase sales.
Ishola Mukayila, the proprietress of a food-packaging store, said the products are put in resin packs because a lot of people touch them in the process of bargaining. The method also enables sellers to clean the surface of the packs with sanitisers without poisoning the food inside.
She explained that doing this helps to keep the sellers and customers safe from the virus.
Repackaging and branding her products this way, she said, has not only given her a niche in the market, but has also enabled her increase sales, as customers feel that the items are safer than the exposed ones in the open market.
Mukayila disclosed that the pandemic has brought out her creative side, as she has discovered better ways of packaging and distributing her food products, which include cassava flakes (garri), yam flour (elubo), smoked or dry fish and pepper, among others.
Mike Oluda, a fashion designer, said although COVID-19 is destructive, it has, however, launched this generation into the ‘new normal era,’ which means people have to think outside the box to survive.
“Things can longer be done in the old way. So, I have turned to designing and sewing fashionable cloth face masks and hand gloves, since the pandemic has made people to stop holding parties and other big events that make people patronise designers. I make the products in large quantities and sell to retailers, who take them to different parts of Lagos and neighbouring states. I also supply some organisations,” he said.
He explained that the returns, though not as huge as the money he makes designing party wears, are encouraging and have helped him to pay his bills and remain in business.
Disclosing that people buy facemasks more than the gloves, Oluda said while most of his competitors just sew anything in the name of facemasks, he has taken the pains to research on how to make a healthy and durable one for all ages, including children under one year.
He said: “My products may be costlier than others, yet people buy them because they are beautiful and long-lasting. I do all this because I want to remain on top of what I am doing. This is what is required to succeed in business now,” he said.
Martin Ogolo, a baker, explained that his business is booming, due to some strategies he has adopted. Now, his bread comes in different sizes, shapes and colours. Upon observing that people in his community are struggling to cope with the current economic situation, he introduced the low price loaves that go for as little as N50. The loaves come in attractive brown and cream colours.
“The cream coloured loaf has milk flavour, while the light yellow one has butter taste, and the brown has honey taste. This is to satisfy different categories of customers and to boost sales,” he said.
Since many people are currently finding it hard to make ends meet, he decided to spice his products to attract patronage.
Ogolo disclosed that the small loaves sell faster than other sizes, as they are affordable and just enough for those with moderate appetite.
“It is not that people do not demand for other sizes, but the smaller ones have become my selling points because they are cheap and available,” he explained. “They bring in quick turnover, and I have had to employ more sellers.”
Justice Omeihen, who before now was producing small and medium size disinfectant and liquid soap for homes, hotels and industries, said adding hand sanitiser to his products has taken him to another level.
He said COVID-19 has opened a new chapter in his business, as there has been an increase in the demand for liquid soap and sanitisers, which he packages in different sizes with different colours and fragrances.
He said: “I ensure that my sanitisers smell nice and are suitable for all classes of customers. To achieve this, I just updated my knowledge of the products, and since going into the production of sanitiser, my finances have improved.
“I have observed that many people prefer hand sanitisers to washing their hands with soap and water. Some are not satisfied with just washing their hands, they must also use sanitiser, especially if it has a nice fragrance.”
Allen Ogunmodede, who is into moulding of plastic bowls and buckets, said the demand for plastic buckets with attached tap heads is on the increase. He attributed this to the need to provide clean water for people to wash their hands.
He said: “So, I have taken advantage of the situation to produce buckets of different sizes and colours. The beauty of the products also counts. To be on top of my business, I have come up with unique designs that include bucket with stands and jerry cans with detachable hose, among others.”
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