Fact checks. Do you know that in Nigeria, SMEs contribute 48% to the National GDP? They also account for 96% of businesses in the country, as well 84% of employment. You would think with these numbers we would have more small businesses thriving, but the reverse (sigh) is the case.
Apart from lacking access to basic services that will help their businesses grow, Small businesses are also challenged with making strategic decisions due to a lack of data for key insights into important issues that affect their business. Stuff like keeping records of your goods and services, managing your payroll and the people who work for you, making payments, and staying tax compliant are all things we need to stay on top of.
Now imagine having a platform that helps you store necessary business data, calculate the necessary payments, invoices, taxes, and provides you information and insights at your fingertips? Using technology and data, this is designed so you can make better-informed decisions on how you can create great customer experiences, motivate your team, and manage and optimize your stock of products or services.
We know these things matter to you, so let us tell you about Sparkle and their recently launched digital business management solution called Sparkle Business. Licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sparkle MFB is a digital bank, a lifestyle and financial ecosystem providing seamless solutions to individuals and SMEs by leveraging on technology and data. Sparkle is founded upon the values of trust, transparency, freedom, inclusivity, simplicity, and personalization. Sparkle is also deliberately focused on female-owned businesses and how Sparkle Business can provide necessary solutions for them to scale.
Sparkle Business is way more than your regular business account. With small businesses in mind, now you can easily manage tasks like payroll management, tax management, inventory and invoicing, customer management, and much more, all taking place in the Sparkle app.
So, what does this mean for you as a small business owner? You can know and manage all your customers. Avoid miscounts and stock loss. File tax deductions for your business and staff at the click of a button. Send invoices from the comfort of the Sparkle app, with the freedom to do much more.
Interested like we are? Click IOS or Android to download the Sparkle app with the Sparkle Business update. Do not forget to share your experience with Sparkle Business with us and other small business owners. When you win, we all win. Keep leading!
Our 20s are hard, but being in your 30s presents a whole new set of challenges. Women in their 30s are expected to achieve more and therefore, they find themselves going down life paths differently. The great thing is, your 30s bring a greater level of self-awareness and since rethinking about the future tends to take a centre stage for most, this is the perfect time to choose the best investment opportunities.
We’ve all heard the stereotypes: Women are shopaholics racking up credit card charges to add one more pair of shoes to an already overflowing closet, while men bring home the bacon and are savvy investors that understand how to manage money and take advantage of opportunities. These clichéd images have overtime been reinforced by the media and popular culture.
When it comes to investing, a number of studies have revealed that men and women invest differently. Gender differences in investment approach, perspective and experience can enhance long-term investing success. Women have been classified as being less confident, not keen on investing in the stock market and massive spenders. Whilst on the other hand, the same women can be seen as being more open to seeking guidance, more patient and a trend has been seen on millennial women who are investing more than their predecessor. Well, to the millennial women in their 30s who are seeking to change the narrative this year and START, here are a few tips on investing:
Before going big on investment:
1. Educate Yourself
Before diving into strategies that claim to give you a better financial future, carve out some time to learn about money management and investments.
2. Set Clear Financial Goals
If you don’t have a set goal to work towards, it can be hard to find the passion or drive to save. Whether it’s a house you’ve been eyeing or your retirement, carefully defining these goals and figuring out how much you’ll need to save can help you craft a better plan for getting there.
3. Make a budget and stick to it.
The first step is to gather all your bills and pay remains, then plan your budget for the month according to your income and your expenses.
Some debt like mortgages and student loans are OK to take on if they fit in with your overall budget. In a consumer-driven society, it’s incredibly easy to live beyond your means; a good rule of thumb is to try and save at least 15% of your income and always spend less than you make.
6. Use Missteps to Help You Learn and Grow
As the famous saying goes, experience is the best teacher. Instead of being ashamed of past financial missteps, learn from them and make better decisions.
7. Put Your Savings on Autopilot
Have your savings contributions automatically deducted from your paycheck and/or direct deposit into an investment account. If you put money aside before you even see it, you’ll tend to not miss it.
8. Always Take Free Money:
You should never turn down free money—your nest egg will grow faster, if your employers march a percentage of your benefit contribution, take it up sis!
9. Don’t Let the Financial World Intimidate You
A good percentage of personal finance is not financial education, but financial behaviour. If you can modify your behaviour with your finances, you can modify your financial future.
Contrary to popular belief you don’t need to be a financial expert to start investing, budgeting or preparing for emergencies. All you really need to do is work on building a solid plan and committing to it. As the American poet Carl Sandburg said, “Money is power, freedom, a cushion, the root of all evil, the sum of blessings.”
Someone said, saying “when the pandemic is over” is starting to sound a lot like “when Rihanna releases a new album” and lol, I couldn’t agree more. We should start adjusting to what life looks like now, instead of making plans for when the pandemic ends, because we have no idea when that might be. Everything around us is constantly changing, including the way we do business. The World Economic Forum says that the businesses that are most likely to survive this pandemic are the innovative ones. I also believe that businesses that have made good financial decisions in the past (have emergency funds) are most likely to survive the pandemic.
For businesses that are still in their infancy stage, this might be a very tough period as they don’t have a pool of savings to tap into and unfortunately have to depend on their creativity. We’ve come up with a few finance tips and tricks that businesses can utilize to not only survive the pandemic but operate smoothly even after it is long gone.
1. Don’t put your eggs in one basket
You have probably heard this piece of advice a thousand times before, but you need to listen to it now more than ever. With so many businesses closing their doors, the least that you can do as a business owner is diversify your income. Depending on one source of income/sales is way too risky, you need to start thinking of how to improve the customer experience and in turn, get more sales. What else do your customers need apart from what you already provide? Can you provide that product/service? Try by all means to think of ways to introduce new offerings to your existing customer base or start providing something new to a new clientele.
2. Everything is becoming virtual, why aren’t you?
This tough period has forced so many business owners to think on their feet and execute immediately. We’re also seeing so many businesses hopping onto the online scene and honestly, it makes so much sense! Think about it, do your customers need to visit your office for all of your products/services? Is there a way that you offer your services online? Can customers order and have your products delivered to them? If there is even the slightest chance that you can continue with some parts of your business online, then GO FOR IT! You don’t have much to lose, setting up an online platform is less costly and has higher returns, in most cases.
3. Make Smarter Budget Choices for Your Business
We need to make smarter money moves this year and that starts by budgeting better. Also, try by all means to increase your income and decrease your expenses. The first thing you can do is ask yourself; what costs can you absolutely live without? Think of all the costs that are not vital to your business operations and all the costs that are unnecessary now that some employees are working from home.
For example, you no longer have to buy coffee and tea because, if no one is in the office, no one needs these during coffee breaks. Most landlords can give their tenants payment holidays and cuts on their rent, you will never know if yours is keen unless you ask them. Administration costs such as stationery can lower your spending, see how much money you can save by not buying these. To save the company from costs of petrol, try to arrange all meetings online so you don’t have to travel to any venues or offices. The last thing you can cut out of your budget are events (if you’re still having those), as great as they may be for employee morale, the business can do without it for now.
4. Invest in learning new skills
When push comes to shove, become the jack of all trades. For the time being, try not to outsource services such as Marketing and Finance. Tough times call for tough measures, so as a team, this is the time to invest in a new set of skills. There are a lot of free online courses, make use of them. Take a social media course and handle your own social media, this cuts out the Marketing consultancy fees you pay. Your finance team should also try to learn how to create professional and accurate annual financial statements, that way you can pay less on finance fees to other businesses.
We’re all trying to survive the pandemic so we need to do business better, the key is to try and see if you can do some things in-house instead of outsourcing.
5. Apply for relief grants
Do your research and find out if your local government and banks are still offering relief funds. If they are, take full advantage of this opportunity. Apply for your business and hope for the best. After all, who doesn’t like free money?
I hope you find these tips helpful, here’s to successful and thriving businesses in 2021!!!
One of Abimbola’s greatest motivations is the look of pride on her little daughter’s face when she is excited about one of her mother’s products. This keeps the illustrious agro-entrepreneur going regardless of the harsh tides and seasons in her business. “I want to always make something she can be proud of. I want to always be someone she can look up to,” Abimbola says. Abimbola Oludare-Ojo spent 17 years in the banking industry before leaving to start Nareli Farms and Agro-Allied Business in 2017. Nareli Farms is a budding business in the agricultural sector that trades and packages items like Shea Butter, Black Soap and edible products like bread and spices.
This article discusses her journey and lessons from her experience as an entrepreneur.
You left a fulfilling career in banking after 17 years to pursue your agro-business, what spurred you to make that change?
Farming has always been a part of my being. Growing up, my father was a passionate farmer. He worked full time as an electrical engineer but he had a rural farm that he always took my siblings and me to. At the farm, he taught us how to plant corn, cassava and other local foods. He also taught us how to fry Garri.
I have always wanted to run my own business. After I graduated from the Master’s program at the University of Ibadan, I tried to get a job in the food processing industry. That was tough so I ended up getting a job at the bank as a Relationship Manager. In that role, I learned a lot about satisfying customer’s needs, I learned about different businesses and read a lot of feasibility studies.
While I enjoyed my job there, I always had this longing to leave and start something of my own. I kept saying, “one day, one day” but of course, one day turned to 17 years. I got moved to another sector and it made me interact even more with business owners. When I would see a business similar to the one I wanted to start, I would feel bad and thoughts of leaving would come up again.
Another thing that spurred me to leave was the feeling that I was not spending enough time with my family. It had been tugging at me for some time and starting a business where I could manage my time proved a solution.
One day, after some soul-searching I walked up to my boss and told him it was time to go. I made him realise that I had to leave. I had to start Nareli Farms.
If you could go back, would you change how your entrepreneurship journey played out?
No, I actually would not. Leaving was a tough decision, but I am glad I did it. Leaving took a lot of courage. In fact, some people thought I wasn’t normal. The pay in banking is good and when you think about how your next venture might not sustain the lifestyle you have, leaving seems less enticing. My supervisors could not believe it. They kept asking me if I was sure. But till now, I know I made the right choice.
The only thing I would have altered was my spending habits. While I was working, I spent a lot of money on equipment I thought I would need for my business but till date, I have not used many of them.
There’s this idea that when you are on the right path as an entrepreneur, there won’t be challenges, has that been true for you in your journey? What are some of the challenges you have faced in the course of running your business and how have you been able to manage them?
There will be challenges regardless of whether you are on the right path or not. When I initially started, I had a million and one ideas in my head. I did not know which product I wanted to launch first or how to really go about it. So I joined a network- NECA’s Network of Entrepreneurial Women.
The amazing women in this network helped me to figure out my business in the early days and held my hand through the process. Joining this network was also instrumental to me leaving my job. Before joining, I did not have the courage to actually take that step. I was three months into the network when I realised that I could do this, I could actually start something for myself.
I was also a part of the cohort at the last FCMB SheVentures program where I learned about growing and running a business. In fact, it was like attending Business School. I would have made some wrong business decisions if I did not attend some of the Masterclasses in the program. My amazing mentor, Cynthia Umoru helped me to challenge myself as an entrepreneur and I grew from that.
To learn more about Abimbola Oludare-Ojo and Nareli Farms, read the rest of this article on the FCMB Business Zone.
This feature article on Abimbola Oludare Ojo is sponsored by the First City Monument Bank (FCMB). FCMB is passionate about empowering female entrepreneurs, helping them build their businesses, and improving the overall success rate of businesses owned or run by women.
We’re all constantly thinking of new ways to save money, especially when it comes to saving towards a particular target. We use apps, banks, and even in 2021, our pillows.
Do you know what these all have in common? Your money is somehow still right in front of you, tempting you at every turn. Without a great deal of discipline, you’ll break into your savings and never reach your goals.
According to independent surveys by She Leads Africa, 73% of young women in our audience said that their top money goal right now is financial independence. In another survey, 58% of women highlighted their top money goal as ‘saving and investing for my future’.
Now if you earn a decent, steady income but you’re always breaking into your savings, when are you going to achieve financial independence, or even save towards your future?
Luckily, there’s a more efficient way to save towards your goals that you’ve probably not heard of in the past- an endowment policy. Never heard of it? Well, you’re in luck, because that’s what this article is all about.
So, what is an endowment policy?
An endowment policy is a plan to help you meet set financial targets and obligations at a particular date in the future. You set a goal, pay periodically towards that goal and your policy provider pays you your set target amount plus a pre-fixed interest sum on your target date.
With an endowment policy, you’re able to put money aside with a trusted institution and get a specified amount back at your target date.
An endowment policy could also double as an insurance plan as in the event of death, accident, or illness (in the terms covered by your plan). Your target amount is paid to you…even before the target date.
Why should you get an endowment policy?
You’ve been trying to save for yearsss: You’ve tried a bunch of methods and nothing is working. It’s definitely time to try an endowment policy.
You want to be accountable: Endowment policies are a great way to plan towards your goals. You’ll have a specific target amount to save monthly towards your goal and the payment plan keeps you accountable.
You want to stay focused: With a target date and a target sum, you can keep your end goal and payday in mind and actively work towards it. You’re not spending the money you’re saving on something else. Your money is safe and secure till the agreed date.
You’re saving towards a specific goal: Could be a master’s, a car. your kids’ education or even a wedding! Get the funds you need when you need them…with no excuses.
You have money: No, that’s not a typo. If you have money and a plan for your future, you SHOULD get an endowment policy.
Tax relief: Some endowment plans qualify for tax relief so the amount of tax you have to pay is reduced.
Your estate is covered: In the event of death, your target sum is paid back to your estate and the policy terminates.
Back-up funds in case there’s an accident: If you ever have a serious accident, you’ll have your target sum to fall back on even before the set target date.
Fall back plan in critical illness: If you get critically ill? We know hospital bills can be a pain. You’ll have your target sum to fall back on and help you pay your bills!
The art of balancing a 9-5 job, side business and managing a family cannot be underrated, it is the work of a superhero! Taiwo of Ejire Onigarri describes herself as industrious, ambitious and a go-getter not just because she has her way with words but it is a description of who she truly is.
She started her business,Ejire Onigarri, to fill in a gap in her community. Repeatedly, people had complained bitterly to her about the dirt-filled Garri they buy at the local market. They would always ask her to buy Garri for them from her hometown. This she turned into a business, added a unique twist and has since then been evolving.
Her business journey is one filled with challenges, successes and lessons learned to help other female entrepreneurs map out their way in the business world.
How did you become an entrepreneur, where did the idea of your business come from?
My mum used to work in UBA, and that always excited me. I dreamt of working there or any other bank of my choice. Everything was going well for my mum until there was an overturn in the banking industry that made banks lay off their staff. This was a major struggle for my mum because she only knew about the 9-5 life. It was difficult for her to get another job or enter into the business world. This hit me deep and ever since then I made the decision that I wouldn’t rely on a 9-5 job. The urge to start a business sparked in me.
I personally don’t buy Garri from Lagos, it always has stones, dirt and other impurities. For those who do not know what Garri is, it is cassava grained into dry edible granules. Anytime, I travel home, my colleagues and friends would always tell me to bring Garri for them. This demand kept on increasing and I thought to myself why not start a business out of it. Garri is a fast-moving product that people can affordably buy. No matter what is going on in the economy, people will always eat, food will always be a priority.
What’s the biggest factor that has helped you become successful?
I won’t say I am there yet, I’m on the path to success! I see feedback as an opportunity to do better. Customer service is key! I don’t do transactional relationships with my customers, I go beyond that and invest in building a long-lasting relationship with them.
What significant struggle have you faced running your business and how did you solve it?
Financial:Funds are usually needed to scale up an enterprise from being a hobby to growing into a profitable business. To achieve this upscale, I began monthly contributions.
Having to get equipment for the business: At inception, my Garri bags were handmade by me. However, as I interacted with colleagues in the industry, I learnt there were machines available that will save time, manage resources and maximise profit.
Social media: Social media can be a hard nut to crack sometimes. My degree in English couldn’t save me as the terrain spans beyond that. To succeed, I enrolled in digital marketing courses as well as conducted research.
What has been the most rewarding part of being an entrepreneur?
Having something to call my own and building my dream. I am building something that generations behind me can take over. As a mother, I want to leave a worthy legacy for my daughter.
Beyond Garri I am preserving the Nigerian heritage, providing crunchy nourishment and creating customer satisfaction and happiness.
What are some lessons you have learned?
Being an entrepreneur is not a walk in the park, it is definitely not a bed of roses. There is a lot of struggle behind the smiling face, behind that exciting post you see on social media. As a 9-5er, I have to balance the orders, package the Garri, prepare for work, get the kids ready for school and put the home in order, I’m still learning, I learn new things every day.
To learn more about Taiwo Oludairo and Ejire Onigarri, read the rest of this article on the FCMB Business Zone.
This feature article on Taiwo Oludairo is sponsored by the First City Monument Bank (FCMB). FCMB is passionate about empowering female entrepreneurs, helping them build their businesses, and improving the overall success rate of businesses owned or run by women.
Every two to four business days, I come across very questionable advice on how to be “financially literate” on the interwebs. I almost want to ask the person giving the “advice” if they believe what they are saying or if it is just vibes.
See, not everyone is giving you advice is they have fact-checked, taken time to think through or practice. We have to learn how to filter what we hear about managing our hard-earned money, especially in a Panoramic.
So, in this piece, we’ll be discussing-
What it means to be a financially literate mogul.
How you can increase your financial literacy without any of the shenanigans online.
Here are some No-BS ways to become financially literate.
Books, Magazines, web articles, newsletters, Facebook posts, Tweets, IG posts- read as much as you can about finance from trustworthy sources.
Read sources that speak about finance in a way that is relatable to you.
While some sources are very helpful in the advice they offer, the context that they operate in might not provide you with the insight you need. With reading comes fact-checking so Google what you do not understand or need more information on.
Use Finance Tools And Apps-
As much as we want to learn, we may not be able to do so all by ourselves. This is where apps and tools come in handy. These days, thankfully, there are apps and tools for almost every aspect of finance- be it saving, budgeting, tracking expenses or investing.
Some finance apps even have learning centres and blogs to help you stay updated. Find one that incorporates the aspects of finance you want to improve on and commit to using it.
Take A Financial Literacy Course-
Sometimes, what we need is a course to help us step up our money game. If you are clueless about where to start on your finance journey or how to stay consistent, consider taking a financial literacy course.
Find a course that breaks down what you need to know and gives take-home assignments. This will help you practicalize your learning and stay accountable.
While this year has been challenging for most, we’re spotlighting non-profits and social enterprises that have worked hard to continue making an impact despite the added challenges that 2020 brought. If a story connects with you, please support the organization and founders in this series. Be part of our community of outstanding women by joining She Leads Africa today.
ABOUT CHASHI FOODS (ZIMBABWE)
Most people know that global hunger is a pressing issue — but what you may not know is that food waste is equally concerning.
Food wasted every year in the continent could feed up to 300 million people, according to the United Nations. In just Uganda alone, up to 40% of fruit and vegetables end up being discarded. Post-harvest losses have a negative impact on the environment as food decay releases methane, which is 28 times more harmful than carbon dioxide, and is associated with global climate change.
However, where many would see a problem, Chashi Foods saw an opportunity.
“Much of what’s sold in markets is wasted because farmers cannot store the food. So they have to return home and pick fresh fruit and vegetables to sell the next day. During the dry season very little grows so people go hungry. Moreso due to strict government-mandated measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus we could potentially spark food shortages around the country.” – Forget (Product Development Director)
Chashi Foods is committed to providing sustainable solutions in reducing food loss. By the use of smart technologies and agro-processing, Chashi Foods has been able to increase the shelf life of farm produce. But their mandate goes further, coining them the three P’s, Chashi Foods concentrates on people, planet, and profit.
By helping farmers prolong their product shelf life they have managed to increase their income per capita. More nutritious food will be available to rural and urban dwellers, especially children as they can eat the dried produce. Their main target is to hire mainly women to manage the operations and collection of revenue at Chashi stations. All the while stopping food waste will be beneficial to the planet.
DEALING WITH THE MARKET MAFIAS & COVID-19
Just before the COVID-19 lockdown started in Harare, Forget had been in a plight to eliminate intermediaries or market mafias from the supply. The market mafias have garnered a reputation to buy produce from the farmers at a very low price and then exorbitantly sell them to the consumers.
However, as the lockdown was imposed their focus had to shift. Suddenly, they had no product to buy as the rural farmers found it hard to commute to the city center. But their call to action was even stronger as farmers’ harvested produce went to waste since large markets were closed. Eventually, Chashi too had to close their production and their impact seemingly came to a halt.
Beyond buying from rural farmers, Chashi continued to support farmers by providing mentorship and training in post-harvest management and agribusiness. During the Covid19 pandemic and the nationwide lockdown period, they trained over 100 farmers in post-harvest management and helped reduce over 5 tons of produce from being lost.
Forget shared a beautiful success story of a female farmer in Guruve, a small village center in the North of Zimbabwe. “After receiving our training manual, this lady was able to dry about 300kgs of tomato harvest which she sold to the local hotel. I haven’t met her personally but she’s come to refer to me as family. That’s what we are aiming to do at Chashi – improving people’s livelihoods.”
As it became apparent that the pandemic would drag on for long, Shareka looked for new avenues of selling their products. As you might guess, the top of the agenda had been gravitating to selling items online and getting them delivered to doorsteps.
While this sounds easy in theory, it brought all sorts of challenges. Professional storefront to be built, photography to be taken, secure payment methods, delivery drivers and transport, and getting the message out there that they’re virtually open for business is not an easy job.
So Chashi came up with an easier plan, they leveraged already existing platforms like Facebook and Whatsapp.
“The pandemic has only enhanced the need for more supply chain resiliency, and for us to make the most of the food that is being produced, disseminated, and purchased not only in Africa but throughout the world.” – Forget Shareka
ADJUSTING TO MAKE IMPACT IN A GLOBAL PANDEMIC
“We created a WhatsApp group in which we were facilitating the selling of farmers’ produce. We identified a common hotspot of activity and traffic in the city, and then created a meeting point for farmers to sell their products and push volumes. We did this free of charge and it was fulfilling seeing the weight we lifted off their shoulders.”
The nearly instantaneous economic recession triggered by the COVID-19 shutdown has wreaked havoc on businesses large and small. For Chashi what has kept them going is reploughing all their sales proceeds into the business towards operational expenses which include salaries and maintenance of their machinery.
Forget testifies that the pandemic has taught her and the organization an important lesson in resilience. The pandemic now presents additional challenges for managing mental health and other economic challenges.
Loss and suffering may change a person, but much will influence its trajectory, including biological, environmental, behavioral, and psychological components. “Any life stressor, to some degree, is out of our control. How long will the pandemic last? When can we go back to school? To work? All valid questions, but they are also unknowns and uncertainties; we don’t want to get stuck ruminating about them,” says Forget.
Lastly, Shareka made a warm invitation. Women constitute nearly 50% of the agricultural workforce and own one-third of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Africa, they are a key pillar of Africa’s food systems. As the challenges related to COVID-19 come into force in various countries, women’s livelihoods and business activities are threatened, ChThasi food is inviting all women in farming, leadership, and business to join them in their journey.
“We have the expertise to change the trajectory of female farmers, we’re inviting investors and business developers to help us increase our reach.” Forget says as her last words
While this year has been challenging for most, we’re spotlighting non-profits and social enterprises that have worked hard to continue making an impact despite the added challenges that 2020 brought. If a story connects with you, please support the organization and founders in this series. Be part of our community of outstanding women by joining She Leads Africa today.
In a bid to deal with the abundance of invasive water hyacinth plants clogging up local waterways, Nigerian entrepreneur Achenyo Idachaba-Obaro founded Mitimeth, a startup not only improving environmental sustainability but also producing beautifully-handcrafted artisan products.
Where others saw a pest, Idachaba-Obaro saw an opportunity
Water hyacinth, she explains, is a species of aquatic plant with violet flowers. It looks attractive, but this invasive weed is actually horribly destructive to the communities along the rivers where it grows in thick mats. The plant keeps fishermen from reaching the fish and students and others from traveling on weed-choked waterways. It may look pretty, but it’s actually devastating to a whole way of life.Water hyacinth at first appears to be an utterly worthless invader, something that just needs to be ripped out and thrown away. But Idachaba had other ideas. Working with local communities, MitiMeth takes water hyacinth, an evasive destructive weed, and upcycles it into personal and interior accessories.
“We are making this product in Nigeria, and we are making a product that has global appeal.” — Achenyo Idachaba-Obaro
In the face of this global pandemic, Achenyo had to take immediate action by protecting the level of the impact of her organization. Achenyo shut down operations way before the local authorities imposed the lockdown. The next step was assuring her employees that she would do everything in her power to keep them employed, “we’ll make it through this together” she said. Immediately she could see the positive change it sparked within their attitudes as they knew they had one less thing to worry about, contrary to the tales they heard from their mates and neighbors who had been furloughed.
Not all hope was lost
The government in Nigeria went on to close state borders and introduce other aggressive responses to COVID-19 in the form of travel bans. This heavily interrupted the supply chain of Mitimeth.
On the environmental level, Mitimeth continued to make an impact as their artisans continued to harvest the water hyacinth for weaving. However, the products could not make their way to the main production hub. “If there’s one silver lining from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that it’s helped expose vulnerabilities in their supply chain” – Achenyo mentioned.
At present, there is less demand for their products since home decor and accessories are hardly seen as an essential service. “We see this problem trickling down the supply chain. So we find ourselves with a warehouse full of raw materials because we made a commitment to our artisans that we would take all their products”, Achenyo said.
Instead of seeing it as a setback, they took this time to do some much-needed R&D and they’re currently exploring the possibility of using the water hyacinth as a textile. “Since most people are sheltering in place, we have seen the consumers’ affinity towards wanting to make their outdoor spaces more appealing. And so we have been afforded the opportunity to expand our outdoor and garden collection”.New ideas are also brought into the communities MitiMeth works with.
MitiMeth essentially provides distribution platforms for the community and match up the appropriate skills with the products to be created.The company provides training for communities the company works with through collaborations and partnerships within the public-private sector. This involves running workshops, held within the communities to understand how things work.
“Funding definitely has been a challenge this year for the organizations that we partner with. So we are seeing some reductions in the number of training we do. But I think the important thing is keeping the momentum going. And I’m glad that with one partner that we’re working with, in the next two weeks we’re going full steam ahead with the training despite the situation that we’re in right now.” Achenyo adds.
One of the challenges the organization faces is they’re unable to hold the training using online tools since the communities they work with are reside in network-deficient areas. “Perhaps in the future, there could be the provision of smartphones which can enable remote learning along with the training seminars for the artisans.”
Most of the funds Mitimeth gets are plowed back into the business, having more than 150 artisans and a commitment to procure their products, nocent goes to waste. They also have to take care of the operational costs of the business including shipping and wages.
Due to the drastic drop in sales, Achenyo had to ensure that they maintained sustainable financing by making good use of their cash reserves from previous years. “A big lesson this year taught us was it’s important to save for famine during the seasons of abundance.”
Hard work certainly pays off as Mitimeth was able to open a new branch in Lagos on the 21st of June. “It’s been tough, but we certainly don’t regret making that decision. So we still grow even during this time”, she said.Achenyo went on to invite other women on her journey.
“They can support what we’re doing, by purchasing our products, knowing that with each purchase, they’re actually supporting a fellow African woman or a fellow African youth, and it is going back into the economy, it’s going back to help people fulfill their obligations.”
There is a United Nations Environmental Programme Map, which illustrates where water hyacinth is prevalent in different parts of the world. If you look at the map of Africa, 44 countries have this infestation problem. Achenyo makes a call for action that if other women can replicate this business model and solution in several other countries, the impact would be amazing to those communities most affected by it.
Bad money habits are kind of hard to break. We do them over and over without even realizing it.
We all want to be rich. I mean, who doesn’t? But it’s one thing to fantasize about the many things you can do with a big paycheck and it’s another thing to muster the discipline you need to make it a reality. If you have bad money habits, you’ll get into a lot of financial trouble.
For so long, I had no clear plan for my financial journey. All I knew was there was money and it had to be spent.
Are you having issues saving? Do you feel like it’s a load of work putting some money down for the future? Well, I’ve got a couple of tips that can help you.
Here are 4 bad money habits you need to quit this minute if you want to become more financially independent:
This is personal for me. I put off starting an investment plan for a later time. And I just kept pushing it farther. Not that I was super busy or anything, just plain laziness and a lack of self-discipline on my part. It wasn’t until I told myself the hard truth: that I can either continue pushing it later or just do it now and get organized. I realized that time was running out and that I had no clear financial goals.
No one is coming to do it for you so you better get on with it. If you keep procrastinating, you’ll end up broke with lots of debts.
We’ve all been here. That urge to buy something. We give ourselves all the reasons why we need to have it. Impulse buying is all in the name. You see a bag and immediately want to buy it. You don’t even stop to consider the cost or whether you actually need it. You buy it before you stop to think whether you need it or can afford it.
You need to first recognize this is a problem and keep track. Before you find yourself reaching for that candy or new pair of shoes, ask yourself if you have the resources and if you really need it. Don’t be in a rush; be certain you need it before you do.
A lot of people live on more than they make. If you don’t have a monthly budget, your money will disappear and you won’t know where it went. A budget allows you to see how much money you’re bringing in and where it’s all going. It enables you to make changes that help you save more money and avoid going into the red each month.
It doesn’t have to be a big chore. It can start with only carrying a small amount of cash with you each day. You can also sign up with a money-saving app that automatically tracks your spending for you. Here’s an easy budget template for you.
Love of Convenience
Once a while, it’s okay to make a convenience purchase. These are purchases that are routine and take little thought when being bought. However, if you find yourself regularly making convenience purchases, it’ll cost you.
You can start by cooking instead of buying fast food every day. Make a regular weekend event of preparing a dish that can be separated into freezer containers for future use.
You can also stop getting that expensive breakfast on your way to work every morning and rather get up 5 minutes earlier to prepare something. I know waking up early might be hard for me so, I cook when I come home. At least I know lunch for the next day is sorted out.
So, there you have it, 4 bad money habits that are keeping you from attaining financial independence. Which of them are you guilty of?