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Rainy season: Businesses that thrive

By Omiko Awa
03 July 2016   |   4:53 am
While some people wish the rains should go away because of the cold, mosquitoes, flood and other discomforts it brings, some small-scale business entrepreneurs ...
Shoe shiners at work on a busy road in Lagos.

Shoe shiners at work on a busy road in Lagos.

While some people wish the rains should go away because of the cold, mosquitoes, flood and other discomforts it brings, some small-scale business entrepreneurs would want the rains to continue in order to sell their various products.

These businesses parade different products, ranging from cloths, beverages, ointments, food items, to nice looking rain-boots and raincoats, as well as products that could help customers remain warm during chilly weather.

And because the products are meant to appeal to all types of tastes and needs, these traders are never short of customers. So, many of their products do not remain for long on the shelf.

For Isaac Adeosun, a producer of nylon wears and shower caps, the season calls for creativity, as individuals have to come up with ideas that would not only solve people’s needs, but also create jobs. He explained that since many people do not like carrying umbrella, maybe because of the inconveniences, he came up with the idea of making beautiful shower caps and raincoats that can be easily picked at any busy bus stop during the rains.

Explaining that men and women can wear these caps, Adeosun said he has to make sure his products are beautiful and cheap to attract patronage.

“The season is good for business. I make between N80, 000 and N100, 000 monthly selling shower caps and raincoats,” he said. “I have agents in different parts of Lagos State and its environs. Since the rains started, I have made over 600, 000 pieces of these items and agents have been coming to pick them, sell and get their commissions. With this, I have not only been gainfully engaged, I have also been able to provide opportunities for others to make money.

“The idea is to enable people move about freely during the rains. So, they have to spend between N50 and N100 to buy the cap, while the raincoats go for N150 and N200. They come in different sizes, even for children and the obese.”

Away from raincoats, Israel Chukwudi said he has witnessed an increase in the demand for polyester cloths and all forms of cardigans in his shops. According to him, prior to the rainy season, cardigans stayed long on the shelf, but since the coming of the rains, they have become one of the fastest selling items. Naturally, this is to his advantage, as it has also increased his profit.

He said: “Every season has its own peculiarity. For the rainy season, it’s any cloth that can keep people warm that they demand and I must say these do not come cheap. I make between N500 to N2, 000 profit depending on the bargaining power of the buyer. I also make sure I only go for the beautifully designed ones that can be worn by both sexes. I make good profit from them.”

Ali Mohammed is a mai shai (a tea brewer) in the Agege area of Lagos. For him, the season is good, especially as it coincides with the Muslim fasting period, which is making tea sellers keep late night, serving customers. He explained that during the rainy season, customers, including commercial vehicle drivers, congregate at his kiosk to take tea, bread and fried egg, as well as other beverages to maintain body temperatures after which they then return to work. He noted that some customers prefer their tea to be spiced with garlic and ginger, which makes it hotter than the normal tea/beverage drink. This, he said, is capable of keeping drinkers warm and active.

“In the last three months, my sales have doubled, despite the increase in the prices of milk, sugar, tea and other beverages,” he said. “A cup of ordinary tea/beverage that used to sell for N50 has gone up to N150 and if spiced with garlic and ginger, the prices are further increased. On the average, I make close to N50, 000 from tea, but when the sales from other products such as bread, egg and noodles are added, my take home may rise to between N150, 000 and N200, 000.”

Also counting the blessings of the season, Musa Alkali, a shoe shiner, disclosed that the season usually brings more work for them. He explained that the nature of jobs the season brings is majorly that of polishing and washing. Some people’s shoes get messy, when they go through some muddy or flooded areas and so, they have to take them to shoe shiners for cleaning. Alkali added that he always carries along detergent solutions and napkins in preparation for such jobs, which most times come with a higher pay.

“As against the normal price of N20 and N50 we charge for polishing shoes, we double the amount each time we have to brush off mud and polish,” he said. “This is because it involves extra work. Besides, there are different kinds of shoe polish— the water resistant, the ordinary and liquid polish. If the water resistant type is required, the customer has to pay higher because it protects the leather from getting soaked. Business is good this time around, as no one wants to look dirty and unkempt.

“And though we still amend shoes, polishing currently dominates and I sometimes make between N5, 000 and N7, 000 a day.”

Vegetable and fruit sellers are also not left out among the thriving businesses of the season. Madam Hassan, who sells garden eggs and other vegetables and fruits, said traders are not restricted to selling a particular product. Seasons and festivals mostly determine the type of products they sell.

“I had to change from selling smoked fish to vegetables and fruits because they are the items in demand right now, but after the rainy season, I will return to smoked fish business. Changing my line of business does not mean I have recorded any loss. In fact, I have made more money than I would have made selling smoked fish.

“Aside the weather, which is currently not convenient for smoking fish, I make between N10, 000 and N15, 000 per week selling vegetables and fruits. My fish business would not have given me this type of money in a week,” she explained.

For Mama Dupe, who deals in boiled and roasted corn, the season gives her the opportunity to combine corn business with petty trading. According to her, corn comes with the rains, so she has to utilise the opportunity by making some money before the season is over. Explaining how she gets her supplies, Mama Dupe said farmers from different farms in Ikorodu, Epe and its environs supply her fresh corn.

She explained that because she has constant supplies, she is able to sell cooked corn in the morning, while she sells roasted ones in the evening.

Said she: “I sell over 15 bags weekly and make between N20, 000 and N30, 000 profit. The product is like a goldmine in the sense that the sizes determine the prices. The smallest size could go for N50, while the big ones are between N200 and N250. Imagine what any seller would gain when he/she has about 50 or 60 of such in a 50kg bag that was bought for between N4, 000 and N5, 000.

“This is not all, because the African pear (ube) or coconut that is eaten with the corn also rakes in profit. By the time I remove all costs, including money paid to government agents for the space I use for the business, I usually make more than the amount quoted earlier.”

Another business that is benefiting from the season is the alcoholic herbal mixture. Though, some people see these products as constituting a nuisance because of the attitude of patrons, the fact that it creates jobs for people at the lower rung of societal ladder can’t be denied. Products sold at these joints range from whitey (plain Ogogoro) to cure-all herbal mixtures, as well as different energy drinks and sometimes aphrodisiac.

Shola Haruna, a joint operator, said the business has no low period. She explained that the rains make some people to take more than their usual dosage, all in the name of driving away cold. Disclosing that both men and women consume the various mixtures, Haruna said while some men go for the aphrodisiac and mixture for rheumatism (opa ehin), the ladies go for anti-pile mixture (jedi jedi). She disclosed that some ladies also buy the products for their husbands.

“I make daily sales of between N15, 000 and N20, 000, but during the rains, it may sometimes drop to between N7, 000 and N10, 000, when the rain is heavy to the extent that people stay indoors. But if the rain is light, the type that allows for nightlife, sales do rise to N40, 000 or a little over that.

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