Christmas period is fast approaching. In the next few days, the entire country will be in a festive mood with the citizenry engaging in buying and selling for the yuletide.
Many operators of the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the country have started stocking their shops with goods, mostly food items and Christmas gifts, in anticipation for yuletide patronage.
In this week’s edition of My Business, The Tide looks at the viability of SMEs during this year’s Christmas period, especially in the face of the recent lockdown occasioned by Coronavirus pandemic, the EndSARS protests and the new economic recession in the country. How have SME operators managed to stock their shops in preparation for the Christmas period and what are the chances of getting good patronage?
Our senior correspondent, Lilian Peters’ chats with some SME operators in Port Harcourt provide answers to these questions. Read on:
Pastor (Mrs) Joy Ezekiel Udoh of ‘Joyce Fashion’, said the sign of season sales were yet to be seen compared to the previous years.
She said, “ both the buyers and shop owners are complaining of lack of money in the system to even stock their shops.
“We only went to market to handpick small goods to keep the business going. Those that managed to buy did that on credit”.
She noted that the increase in price of fuel has further complicated the situation, as the cost of transportation of goods has gone up by 100 per cent.
The owner of ‘Joyce Fashion’ noted that the pump price of N170 per litre “is adding to the sufferings of the business men and women who have not even recovered from COVID-19 and #EndSARS losses.
“The situation is not funny, government needs to help the poor masses”.
A shoe dealer in Mile 3 Market, Diobu, Mr Uchenna Mgbeoji, said the year has already gone, “because COVID-19 changed everything in addition to the #EndSARS protest.
“Things are very expensive in the market and everybody is in trouble. By this time in the previous years, the season was at the peak for Christmas sales but now, the shops are empty because we do not have the money to stock our shops.
“The fall of Naira and the closure of Nigerian borders also contributed to what is happening to SMEs these days.
“SMEs manage to stay in business without making gains. How do you see business men and women staying at home for more than six months in the name of Coronavirus and #EndSARS protest?
“Remember that we paid shops and house rents, in addition to security and other fees. Now, schools have opened, how do we cope with all these problems?”, he asked.
The shoe dealer who also manages a fish pond said that the cost of feed has gone so high that the feed that used to cost N5,300 now cost N7, 300.
“In other countries like Dubai, government takes care of the people but here in Nigeria, the people take care of government which does not care whether you make gains or not”, he said.
The Managing Director of Bernice Boutique, Ewere Ochie, said, “I prefer the time of President Goodluck Jonathan when the Dollar was N170 with the Nigerian borders open for business.
“The prices of clothes are too high in the market, coupled with the transportation hike due to fuel increase.
“They said we are in second recession, as if we had ever gotten out of the first one. This government has failed us. We are only living by the grace of God.
“All we see (hear) are promises upon promises without the fulfillment. Since President Buhari took over office, l have not travelled out of the country to buy clothes for my boutique”.
Bernice Boutique Director said that there was no basis for comparison between this year’s Christmas period and the previous ones in the face of recent COVID-19 pandemic and the #EndSARS protest, which according to him, affected the economy and livelihoods.
“Most people lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic and even borrowed money to pay school fees for their children. So, which one would they use for clothes?
“Sometimes, we open from morning till night without anybody coming to ask for even prices. It is that bad.
She said that SMEs operators, in addition to the cost of running business, suffer the payment of different fees to different bodies who often come to embarrass them.
Entrepreneur Charges Corps Members On Entrepreneurial Skills
An entrepreneur, Mr Emmanuel Aondoakaa has advised youth corps members to strive to acquire entrepreneurial skills in order to be self-reliant instead of waiting for white-collar jobs.
Aondoakaa, the Chief Executive Officer of Own Your Enterprise Campaign (OYEC), gave the advice when he delivered a lecture held for 2021 Batch ‘B’ Stream 2 corps members posted to Wanune in Tarka Local Government Area of Benue State.
According to him, there are no jobs in Nigeria to fall back to after the service year, as business is the key to financial independence.
“Unemployment rate is increasing among Nigerian graduates every year and the only panacea is business, so that you can be financially independent and even become employers of labour,’’ he said.
Aondoakaa pointed out that the best time to venture into business was at this period of insecurity, saying that all they needed to do was to look for the needs of their environments and venture into it.
Fielding questions from youth corps members after the lecture, he noted that the capital to kick start a business had always been the discouraging factor among young graduates.
However, he said there were many foundations such as Tony Elumelu Foundation and the likes giving grants to young entrepreneurs to encourage self-reliance in Nigeria.
He noted that applying and getting the grant might be difficult but promised to train interested persons on how to apply and get it.
Also speaking, Mrs Ann Adogah, one of the resource persons, advised the Youth Corps members to take the entrepreneurship development lecture seriously, as it would be “Plan B’’ for self-reliance after their service year.
Rivers Farmers Hail Wike On Anti-Grazing Law
All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Rivers State branch has hailed Governor Ezenwo Nyesom Wike for the signing of the anti-open grazing bill into law.
State chairman of the association, Comrade Ofimaobari Igwe who said this in an interview with newsmen in port Harcourt said the law will ensure peace in the state.
Igwe said the development will also lead to massive food production in the state.
According to him, the law will boost the confidence of Rivers farmers as their security is now guaranteed.
He also stressed the need for the government to set up a committee to ensure the implementation of the law.
Comrade Igwe also called on the government to look at the possibility of assisting farmers who lost their crops to flooding last year in the state.
He said farmers in the state will continue to support all efforts by government to restore security to the state.
The Afan boss also called on farmers to take advantage of the gesture by the government to improve their farming activities.
Igwe also called on them to visit the association office for registration.
Open grazing of cattle has been a source of conflict between herders and farmers across the country.
It was against this backdrop that governors of the 17 Southern States met at Asaba, Delta State to unanimously banned open grazing in the zone.
The anti-grazing law in Rivers State was a follow-up to the Asaba meeting.
The AFAN chairman said the situation would bring peace and boost food production in the state.
By: John Bibor
FCMB’s CEO Advises SMEs On Corporate Governance
The Managing Director of First City Monument Bank, Mrs Yemisi Edun, has advised corporate organisations, particularly micro-businesses, to adopt sound corporate governance practices in order to stand the test of time.
A statement from the bank, titled ‘Adopt Corporate Governance, Yemisi Edun charges SMEs’, said she made the call as the guest speaker at the inaugural corporate governance and enterprise development conference organised by H. Michael & Co in Lagos, with the theme ‘Corporate governance best practices: Imperatives for business sustainability’.
Addressing the conference’s physical and online audience, the bank’s chief noted that no business could stand the test of time without sound corporate governance practices.
She said that micro-businesses also required the same to achieve optimum performance and sustainable growth, urging small businesses to imbibe corporate governance practices.
Edun listed the long-term benefits of sound corporate governance practice as strong brand equity, decreasing risks, reducing capital cost, and enhanced performance.
She added that only businesses with solid corporate governance practices could stimulate economic growth and enhance innovation while protecting communities and the environment in their daily activities.
In his keynote address, a former Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Babcock University, Prof. Sunday Owolabi, described corporate governance as “doing the right when no one is looking”.
Owolabi urged businesses to self-regulate and embrace full disclosure and accountability.
He also advised the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria to consolidate the country’s multi-sector codes of corporate governance into a single omnibus document for corporations in the country.
The conference convener, Dr Adeyinka Hassan, a notable enterprise governance advocate, noted that more than 100 companies in Nigeria had fizzled out due to corporate failure
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