How Business Training Helps Nigerian Entrepreneurs Navigate the COVID-19 Crisis
When Endurance Boms first opened her small beauty shop in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, she struggled to keep track of her sales and inventory. Then, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, her sales slowed to a crawl. A TechnoServe program gave Endurance the business training and support she needs to achieve success as a Nigerian entrepreneur. Now, she can confidently maintain a reliable income source – even during a global crisis.
On a warm February day in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, 32-year-old Endurance Boms sat on the steps outside her small beauty shop and started to wonder if she had made a mistake in becoming an entrepreneur.
When Endurance left her job at a private company, she’d felt so excited to start her own micro-retail business. However, as she struggled with recordkeeping in her new role as an entrepreneur, it became clear she needed business training to succeed.
Unsure of how much profit she was making from her shop and frustrated by her business’s lack of growth, Endurance became increasingly worried about how to support her two children.
The arrival of an unexpected visitor brought her attention back to reality. The woman at her door introduced herself as an advisor with TechnoServe’s Pan-African Youth Entrepreneur Development (PAYED) program, a partnership between TechnoServe and Citi Foundation.
At the beginning of the lockdown, I was scared and unsure of what might happen to my business, my customers, and my family. I had just stocked up the shop before the lockdown, and sales were very low.”
— Endurance Boms, entrepreneur, Nigeria
A Path to Opportunity for Young Entrepreneurs
In Nigeria, entrepreneurship presents a path toward economic independence for many young people. This is particularly true in areas where formal employment opportunities are scarce.
In many low-income communities, small “mom-and-pop” retail shops play a critical role in the wellbeing of everyone who lives there. Small businesses like Endurance’s provide the following benefits:
- Generating income for entrepreneurs
- Creating jobs
- Increasing access to everyday products
Endurance’s idea for her small business was inspired by her observation of how many beauty products were largely unavailable in her community at an affordable price, such as:
- Hair products
… and countless other beauty accessories.
Based on some research on starting a small business, Endurance learned that she could purchase these products wholesale in Lagos. By reducing her business expenses, she could then sell these products from her shop in Port Harcourt at much more affordable prices.
Soon, her idea became a reality.
Since 2017, PAYED has helped small business owners make their mom-and-pop shops more profitable. The program connects entrepreneurs with the knowledge, training, and tools they need to become successful retailers.
As she listened to the TechnoServe representative explain the PAYED business training program, Endurance started to see an opportunity to grow her business. Motivated by the vision of becoming better equipped to support her family and provide her community with an unmet need, Endurance decided to join.
An Unexpected Challenge for Small Business Owners in Nigeria, and a Proven Solution
In late February, Nigeria confirmed the first case of COVID-19 in sub-Saharan Africa. The onset of the pandemic sparked a series of closures and restrictions that crippled the economy. Ultimately, this led to an estimated 33% loss in the country’s average household income.
“At the beginning of the lockdown, I was scared and unsure of what might happen to my business, my customers, and my family,” Endurance recalls.
“I had just stocked up the shop before the lockdown, and sales were very low.”
By March, the TechnoServe team was already adapting its usual in-person training program to a digital format. After moving the curriculum to a digital format using WhatsApp, the team placed each entrepreneur into a small virtual group.
“During the lockdown, they taught us how to display our goods on social media,” Endurance shares. “My shop was not open, but I was still displaying my goods, and people were ordering. In the evenings, I could open the shop to get the [products] and deliver them to my customers. So, during the lockdown, I was still selling because of the help of PAYED.”
TechnoServe’s PAYED Program Gives Nigerian Entrepreneurs Security in a Time of Crisis
When Endurance first opened her shop in 2017, she had no idea what opportunities lay ahead of her. Today, with support from the PAYED program, she has been able to add new products such as perfume to her shop and grow her business. The PAYED team also helped her insure her business, which required a business registration.
Despite the unexpected challenges for small business owners during COVID-19, Endurance is optimistic about the future of her business.
During the lockdown, they taught us how to display our goods on social media. My shop was not open, but I was still displaying my goods, and people were ordering. In the evenings, I could open the shop to get the [products] and deliver them to my customers. So, during the lockdown, I was still selling because of the help of PAYED.”
— Endurance Boms, entrepreneur, Nigeria
“I’m looking forward to opening another branch and getting to a place where I can have more people helping out,” she says. “I want to be able to transfer the knowledge of what PAYED has taught me to my employees.”
Endurance’s income increased by 99% between January and August of this year. Now, she has more money to pay for her children’s education and invest back into her own business.
“[Before receiving business training from TechnoServe], I was worried because companies were downsizing, people were being laid off from work, and there were restrictions on movement, which resulted in low sales,” Endurance says. “But I am very confident now.”
“With the knowledge I have acquired from TechnoServe and the PAYED team in business training, recordkeeping, customer relations, and merchandising, I can now be able to manage my business during a crisis.”