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CHRISTIAN ENTREPRENEUR

HOW TO START A CHARCOAL EXPORTATION BUSINESS IN NIGERIA

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HOW TO START A CHARCOAL EXPORTATION BUSINESS IN NIGERIA

Charcoal might be one of the oldest forms of cooking in the country but it’s still pretty much used for several other things. In the past, charcoal was one of the options available for humans to go about basic activities like cooking. They served individuals for many years before other alternatives came in and slowly, the option of using charcoal for cooking became less popular as the need for cleaner sources was advocated for. Charcoal, however, is not only used for cooking as it is also used for a number of other things, one of which is related to the health sector. The charcoal industry is still quite profitable for entrepreneurs who can explore the prospects there.

In Nigeria today, when it comes to business involving other countries, importation is usually the main talking point with many people even getting involved in the business in an even small form. It involves getting things from other countries and then selling in the country for an higher price that will bring in profits. But in the same vein, things can also be sold out to other countries in need of them for a good price. It’s also a really nice and lucrative business and even though importation is popular and widely practiced, this other aspect of buying and selling between countries is also another nice option for individuals looking to start a business and make good amounts form it. The term for the business is exportation and it is also equally as productive as the importation business.

Exportation, simply put, is the sale of particular products to other countries who are in need of them. There are different products that can be used or put in for the exportation business. All that you need to consider is getting a country or a buyer in the other country that needs the product. Charcoal exportation involves the distribution or sale of charcoal from this country to other countries. Charcoal, even though not really used for cooking, is used for several other things in different countries worldwide and the demand for it is quite high there making it a reasonable option to send the product out as a good business option and also to make good amount of income.

There are two ways in which the business can be operated. One is as a direct exporter and the other is as an indirect exporter. The direct charcoal exportation involves selling the products to other countries and dealing directly with the person who wants to buy it. In this case, you’re in direct communication with whoever is interested in buying it in the other country. But as an indirect exporter, you’ll be in talks with someone who will act as a middle man to connect you and the buyer. In this case, you don’t necessarily have to be in contact with the person buying it and your main business is mainly with the middle man. Both have the ways in which they work but they’re equally profitable and fit the main purpose of selling your products to another country where they are needed.

The demand for the product is quite high in some countries and this makes it a good option to export. Some of the major countries where Charcoal is bought are United Kingdom, Greece, China and Spain. And they are used for several reason, some of which include production of gun powder, liquid purification, artistic work, industrial fuel and for use in the medical industry. With a good demand and the above reasons and more for use, it makes the business a really good option and one that individuals can try out. The demand means you’ll be able to get customers willing to buy the product which then translates to a good amount of income.

Starting the business is not something really hard to do though it might really involve quite a lot of things since you’re not just selling to people in the country but people outside the country which takes the business to a different level. Capital will be on the high side especially since you’ll be exporting a large quantity of the product plus the shipping fees that will also come with that. Availability of capital makes the business a bit easy as you’re able to do certain things related to the business easily. You don’t necessarily need any form of special skills to be able to start the business though a training might prove helpful especially for someone with no idea at all in the industry. Educational qualifications might not be neccesary but they are certainly a plus for the business.

In the next sub heads, I’ll be discussing the steps involved in starting a charcoal export business in Nigeria and some of the important things that might prove useful during the course of running the business that will ensure that you’re running the business rightly and you’re also being successful at the business.

  1. RESEARCH

No matter what you’ve heard someone saying about a business and how well success is assured or how lucrative it would turn out, always try to do your own research. The research will not cost anything except your time and that time will prove to be well spent when the business starts and the successes starts coming in. It is important to do a thorough investigation about the business since you’re going to be investing your money into it and you’ve never been involved in the business. Some hours of research won’t hurt.

The research is always meant to give you an idea of what to expect and the challenges ahead to be faced. It teaches future entrepreneur how the business works and what success means. It shows the risks involved and the ways to tackle them. It also gives ideas on how to sustain the business and work towards more success. Imagine missing out on any of the mentioned points, it’s more like being less equipped about something especially something you plan to spend money on.

There are experts in the business, of course, so also look to advise from these individuals as they are most likely the best bet for reliable information on the business. Take note of even the smallest things during the research period and pay close attention to how to stay and survive in the business. The research is as important as anything in the business.

  1. WRITE A BUSINESS PLAN

A business plan needs no introduction. It is equally as important as some of the other processes or things involved in the business. After a comprehensive and thorough research has been conducted, entrepreneurs must now put all their ideas into paper after, of course, deciding to start the business. The business plan will cover things like the way you plan to operate, the cost of several things, how you plan to market your business, future projections and also contingency plans.

The business plan serves a number of purposes. In cases where individuals might need to get investors or even get a loan, it will prove useful as it will contain all that needs to be known concerning the business. It is also going to serve as a point of reference for the proposed business.

  1. CAPITAL AND LOCATION

Capital is always very important and just like every other business, it helps in kick starting some of the plans for the business. According to africabusinessclassroom, local price of charcoal is about #400,000 for 23 metric tons at the average which can fill a 40 ft. shipping container. This kind of size can then be sold for about 800,000 or more after you must’ve also calculated your shipping cost. You’ll need to get a place where you can also store the charcoal before they can be distributed or shipped to customers. The location will also take the cost of that. Documentation and registration is next and you’ll need to get things like license to operate in both the country you’re selling from and also the one where they will be buying from you. Register the business and get all necessary certificates and licenses.

  1. MARKETING AND SALE

At this point, the business is ready to be started. You can create a website for the business and you can also get to interact with people from other countries that might be interested through social media. Create social media accounts and advertise through the platforms.

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CHRISTIAN ENTREPRENEUR

What’s the Best Ecommerce Platform For Your Business? Here’s How To Evaluate Your Options

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What’s the Best Ecommerce Platform For Your Business? Here’s How To Evaluate Your Options

Launching an e-commerce business in Nigeria is an exciting venture for most entrepreneurs. This is due to the established fact that businesses which go digital have a better chance of succeeding and growing exponentially, as it employs tools provided by digital technology to amplify all aspects of business activities.

By establishing an e-commerce business, entrepreneurs can determine almost anything about the business, ranging from business name, logo, branding, to business set up. Though it feels like an early stage where entrepreneurs only consider current business needs, determining the direction which the business should go and tools needed are important.

In our technological world today, choosing a top online store is not the only factor that guarantees success for entrepreneurs. Business owners choose the top ecommerce platform which possess all necessary tools to facilitate easy integration. As a result, they have absolute control over every detail of the business, as well scaling ability to achieve growth.

Through this piece, we will have a look at the best ecommerce platform for your business, and how you can do a thorough evaluation of the platform that best support your business needs.

What are E-Commerce Platforms?

E-Commerce platform is a means through which entrepreneurs create a digital presence for their business. Through these platforms, companies can make sales and fulfill orders from wherever their customers are located. The range which an e-commerce platform operates depend on the target market of businesses located on the platform. It could be international, continental, national, or domestic level.

Although we have entrepreneurs who feel e-commerce platforms is merely a tool that allow them take orders and accept payments online, the scope of e-commerce has expanded to be more than that. E-commerce platforms today comes with all features to help it function as a command center where total control of the business from the inventory to making sales.

Good e-commerce platforms should help your business process payments in a secure manner, while also allowing you easy access to all the tools required to help you sell through your store.

What types of ecommerce platforms are there?

There are different types of e-commerce platforms in present day. These platforms offer different services and features that make them unique. To make your digital store available for access to the public, especially your target market, a hosting solution is required. Through hosting, data and information about your store are stored on a secure server. The server allows users (buyers) visit your store, view your products and services, and eventually make purchase.

Some e-commerce platforms have in-built hosting, while others use  open source hosting.

  • Hosted E-Commerce Platform

There are e-commerce websites which offer a hosted platform. In this type, entrepreneurs do not have to deal with the self or third party hosting which usually attracts a charge. A prime example of this kind of store is Kusnap, which offer website hosting in every plan. Updates on Kusnap are automatic and seamless to help your site keep up with changes. Having a store on a hosted ecommerce platform provides entrepreneurs with greater liberty to concentrate on the business aspects of your store rather than spending precious time on fixing bugs and issues related to downtime.

  • Self-hosted

As opposed to hosted e-commerce platforms, Self-hosted platforms require entrepreneurs to engage in the technical aspects of website building. This includes coding, fixing bugs, downtime and other technical aspects of digital platforms. In these types of platforms, running website management is pretty intertwined and convoluted. Entrepreneurs will have to personally maintain, update, and diagnose the website within intervals.

These types of platforms are usually open source, since third parties help host the data of your platform. Fees are charged for these services, and it usually interrupt merchant’s focus on the business aspect of their store.

Types of ecommerce

There are four types of ecommerce: B2C (business-to-consumer), B2B (business-to-business), C2B (consumer-to-business), and C2C (consumer-to-consumer).

  • B2C – This involves selling products from a business to an individual consumer. It is also popularly referred to as DTC, or direct-to-consumer.
  • B2B – Here, transactions are executed from business to business. It involve wholesale purchase, when the purchasing business intends to resell at a profit, as well as for business use— as in products such as office supplies and equipment.
  • C2B – Roles are reversed in this type of business. Consumers also have selling power, in cases where they sell to businesses. Typically, these transactions are less traditional. A consumer might sell their influence in the form of a featured social post, or they might offer a five-star review in exchange for money.
  • C2C – Consumers can also sell to one another, a trend that has emerged with the popularity of the sharing economy. Platforms like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and eBay offer a place to facilitate C2C ecommerce.

All things being equal, the type of ecommerce business entrepreneurs intend to start determines the ideal ecommerce platform that best suit your business needs.

What does a great ecommerce experience mean to you?

In cases where entrepreneurs have complete focus on checking the ideal e-commerce platform, it is easy to get lost. Reasons why you are looking for the best platform for your business can easily be forgotten over time. One simple truth which most entrepreneurs would not like to hear is that there is nothing like the best ecommerce platform.

You can only get the right platform for your business. This kind of platform allow you offer your services to customers in the best possible way. We all want an awesome shopping experience. Your e-commerce platform should offer that to customers.

Today, the most effective e-commerce platform should offer an easily integrated ecosystem which have tools such as a store, payment processor, POS, and so on. Kusnap as an example, comes with series of tools that help entrepreneurs manage business efficiently. Kusnap also features an app with tools to help merchants customize shopping experience for their customers.

The best ecommerce platforms for 2021

As expressed earlier, your business model and projections determines the ideal e-commerce solution for your business.  There is a wide variety of e-commerce platforms which entrepreneurs could use in Nigeria. In recent times, the platform which has displayed efficiency in operations, ease of use, and facilitates business growth is Kusnap.

Features:

Price: Available on Request

Free trial length: 14 days

Customer support options: callback phone support; email support; support provided in major languages in Nigeria; community forum; support content.

Integrated sales channels: Facebook, Instagram, Google, and Twitter.

Mobile app features: suite of mobile tools to fully manage your online business

POS: Yes

Payment processor: Yes

Kusnap is easily the most efficient platform to set up e-commerce. Our robust platform features numerous tools that facilitate multi-channel transactions. This way, merchants can sell products through their website, physical stores, social media, and so on.

Additionally, Kusnap help take care of different aspects of your business. Designated payment methods process payments, Kusnap logistics ensure customers receive purchased products, and so on. The numerous tools on offer by Kusnap work towards a common goal as part of an ecosystem.

Through all State-of-the-art features of Kusnap, entrepreneurs can create their business digitally with minimal technical experience and budget. This helps merchants grow their online brand without any need to switch platforms along the way.

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CHRISTIAN ENTREPRENEUR

How Can We Help Businesses Affected by the COVID-19 crisis

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How Can We Help Businesses Affected by the COVID-19 crisis

The occurrence of the Covid-19 pandemic has affected so much. From being a health crisis to an economic one, it is definitely one hard challenge for companies and entrepreneurs to scale through. Having identified the huge role and importance which MSMEs play in the growth and development of the Nigerian economy, it is imperative that these kinds of businesses are offered help and bailouts in different ways.

In the commercial industry today, most  companies are still struggling to shake off the negative effects of the lockdown. As the lockdown was lifted, most businesses had no idea of the scale of damage which it had done to their business. Post-lockdown, Business owners are finally getting a full grasp of the scale of damage that has been done. After identifying numerous problems, lots of entrepreneurs have no real idea of how to recover from the terrible effects on their business, most especially on MSMEs.

Through this piece, we will have a bold look at how MSMEs can get help in recovering from the hellish business conditions created by the pandemic. Also, we will see how business can integrate strategies that will help them recover quicker than anticipated.

Adapting technical assistance to meet the challenge

With the way the pandemic slowly transformed from a health crisis to an economic one, no one could have imagined the extent of damage the pandemic will have over businesses. More importantly, how businesses stay above water to weather the storm and recover is where all efforts and strategies need to focus on.

The government in the past has worked with MSMEs in various industries across the Nigerian economy with the aim of monitoring the condition of business and how well most are performing. It is easy to recognize that other than being a driver for the Nigerian economy, MSMEs are also the biggest employer of LABOR. Atypical MSME in Nigeria operates optimally with employees ranging from 10-20. Statistically, it means MSMEs provides up to 65% of jobs which is a big deal for a developing cou try like Nigeria. Additionally, MSMEs attracts the younger population, as well as women.

Till date, a lot of businesses still find it difficult to identify the full effects which the pandemic has wrought of them. Most enterprise are already in the middle of turmoil in terms of liquidity which could potentially clear out a whole segment of the economy. Today, they all face challenges which vary in impact rates. The degree of challenges businesses face will then determine how policy makers respond.

Challenges facing MSMEs

Businesses have seen it all, the full wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. The economy of all countries around the world nearly entered into a recession if we are to go by the data presented by the International Monetary Funds (IMF).

Through the data produced, we can clearly identify how some sectors were paralyzed more than others. Sectors of the industry such as Food, Travels, accommodation, tourism have bore the full brunt of the heat of Covid-19. In a bid to revive the business to its former glory, businesses have to go through four phases; from Lockdown, supply chain disruption, demand depression to recovery. The degree of issues which businesses run into during these phases had a lot to do with government policies

As they transition form lockdown to recovery, MSMEs encounter a series of threats to their survival:

  • Collapsing demand and access to liquidity – Demand has plunged for the businesses and entrepreneurs we support – even in commodity sectors – and some buyers are slowing payments for orders already received. MSMEs have small cash reserves, and therefore go out of business first in a liquidity shock. Businesses who trade internationally are especially vulnerable, as they depend on access to increasingly depreciating Naira to fund a variety of their costs.
  • Accessing inputs and managing inventory – MSMEs frequently source inputs from abroad, increasingly so as supply chains have become longer and more complex.
  • Managing the work environment – For manufacturing MSMEs in severe situations, remaining open is challenging as factory floors are not designed for social distancing. Massive outmigration from cities has meant workers have disappeared and they may be difficult to remobilize. Many countries have suspended support to farmers even as the agricultural calendar continues.
  • Policy uncertainty and disrupted supply chains – Policies are evolving fast. MSME managers often work alone and cannot create crisis teams to track changes. Supply chain disruptions such as restricted movements create huge liabilities.
  • Accessing emergency support: Many of the small businesses that need support are on the edge of the formal economy or trade informally. They rarely draw on government support and relatively few participate in networks of government support institutions. As governments put together emergency support, reaching these companies and finding ways to help may be difficult.

Reactivating business linkages

As already established, the Nigerian government are the most capable players that can help businesses survive the negative effects of something as huge as a pandemic. As the crisis is steadily regressing, beneficiaries of government funding are to be ready to reconnect with buyers, re-hire staff and re-launch production. It is too early to draw lessons but these are our suggestions, based on early advice from the field:

  • Transform the playbook (and listen) – Like other technical assistance providers, many of the Federal government projects helping MSMEs have rigid targets and work plans that did not anticipate something of this scale. Businesses should modify their plans, listen closely to MSME managers and governments on what they need – and find ways to get it done. For instance, the government is already working with numerous industries in Nigeria to develop a recovery plan, with the active support of the funder.
  • Be ready with data – International value chains account for a huge proportion of trade and connect to millions of MSMEs. The Nigerian Government is using networks within these chains to measure the impacts of the crisis and is making the analysis available to decision makers and companies. The key is to time surveys so they do not disrupt partners while they address immediate issues.
  • Build (re-build) the ecosystem – MSMEs need business support organizations now more than ever. Governments also need an ecosystem that can deliver much needed aid to their MSMEs.
  • Think value chains and alliances – Actors across entire value chains have to work together to restore trade. Entrepreneurs can start by working to maintain the dialogue between buyers and suppliers.
  • Focus on finance – Because few of private beneficiary companies receive formal financing, they may be left out when governments and public lenders offer emergency liquidity. The Government is working with trade finance providers, regulators, guarantors, buyers, and suppliers to integrate MSMEs into affordable financing networks.

Summary

Considering the really terrible condition which the pandemic has left the Nigerian economy, especially in the MSME sector, a lot of businesses are struggling to keep up. The most effective and credible opportunity and bailout which MSMEs can use is Government intervention. Having recognized the importance of MSMEs to the growth of Nigerian economy, it is expected that the Government rise to the occasion to help businesses thrive through funding and loans.

Fortunately, there are numerous government programs that are already established to help businesses scale through the economic effects of coronavirus pandemic. MSMEs can easily use the opportunity to seek bailout funds to help improve their business, until the market recover fully.

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CHRISTIAN ENTREPRENEUR

How Businesses Can Scale the Imapct of COVID-19

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How Businesses Can Scale the Imapct of COVID-19

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, followed by the lockdown, many businesses across the country endured one of the worst periods. Regardless of how a business is set up, many today need to review their operations and reevaluate how the business operates.

As things are slowly returning to normal most businesses have been unable to keep up with the new business market they find themselves. This is mostly due to inability of entrepreneurs to keep the financial wheels of their business turning during and after the lockdown.

The effects of the pandemic is much more devastating on startups and MSMEs mostly due to the fact that the financial reserve of such businesses are so small. As a result, they are unable to manage the fallout of this scale. The ripple effect of this shutdown has had a key impact on Nigeria’s economy, as all business sectors get affected resulting in low revenue generation due to an eventual halt/slump on the sale of products and/or services.

So, during such testing times, startup entrepreneurs will have to adapt to a new set of rules and be mindful of the following aspects to alleviate risks and to survive the slowdown caused by the impact of COVID19.

Tracking expenses against the revenue status

In this Post-Covid-19 period, one of the most important things to consider in business today is to carry out a thorough assessment of all forms of expenses, and also the total income generated. Doing this will provide a good estimate of the position of the company on a financial level. Knowing the financial position of the company, entrepreneurs can make proper plans until when everything is normalized.

Reviewing the feasibility of Existing business model

Since the occurrence of the pandemic, there has been a constant change in the market. And we all know it is not for good. As a result, we can all agree that it is time to review existing business model in terms of projections concerning revenue and expenses. Tracking financial metrics and cash flow cannot be lagging in this period considering how unpredictable the market has become. As such, entrepreneurs should review how much of an impact the pandemic has had on new sales, collections, debts, and so on.

Plan policies for Future

Provided it is still quite unclear how long it is going to take for the market and business industry to recover, entrepreneurs should make plans for all possible scenarios and outcomes. If we consider it as a 3-month problem, an instant halt on variable expenditures like hiring, marketing, travel, etc. can help. However, if the crisis continues for 9 months to a year, entrepreneurs will have to reconfigure their business strategy to reduce the variable expenses, renegotiate fixed expenses (rent, salaries, equipment lease payments, etc.), and focus only on the crucial essentials for survival.

Patience in securing investments

There is no business that does not require capital in one form or another to run it. One constant question which most entrepreneurs ponder on is usually where to secure enough capital to keep business afloat in these difficult times. Despite the presence of many avenues for entrepreneurs to secure funding for business, caution is taken in every step of the way.

It is important to not that investors have also been affected directly by the pandemic, and as a result, they take more caution by taking longer time to make funding decisions. One positive thing to always fall back to is the fact that in past economic meltdown, the market eventually bounce back over time. To buy enough time to keep your head over water, entrepreneurs can approach investors for more funding with a convincing plan and proof of use. Most investors would most likely take the chance since they are already within the game.

Other tips to stay connected and afloat post-lockdown includes:

Combining speed and stability

In terms of business, agility is a characteristic to be able to rapidly adapt or modify itself in a terrible business condition or market. This adaptation buy the business enough time to pass through the difficult situation with minimal damages to the company. This adaptation here focuses on both the speed and stability. Speaking of speed, it is the ability of a business to keep up with the different changes hitting the market where it operates. Entrepreneurs need to be creative and dynamic enough in creating and implementing policies that fit with the changing market.

However, for entrepreneurs to guarantee sustainable success and ability to boost operations, a set of core elements have to be considered. Thus, the latter component of stability or the solid backbone becomes crucial.

Turn digitization into an advantage

During the pandemic and as we are gradually coming out of it, most of the top officials of companies identified the need to transform their business digitally. While most of them saw the need to move business to the digital space, only a few implemented it. This led a lot of startup companies to run into issues which could have easily been avoided. Digital adoption is now and should be the new normal due to the many issues which it helps businesses avoid.

For example, during the pandemic, only businesses which have a digital presence were the only ones able to operate. Since it does not require the physical presence of people, it proved to be a great way for businesses to connect, make transactions, as well as execute them with a minimal physical effort or presence required. Kusnap is one such ecommerce platform which entrepreneurs a great deal to keep business in operation where many were locked.

Additionally, more businesses are finally recognizing the importance and benefits of digitalization. Ability to operate in physically restricted conditions, wider exposure of business to target market, better customer engagement, and so on; have made the digital space ideal for entrepreneurs.

The challenge of the pandemic for businesses has not only been to sustain productivity through digitized operations, but to refocus on new opportunities created by digitalization for their work and workforce. It is in part a cultural shift, where digitalization is seen less as an acceptable solution to a problem, and more as a catalyst to change the business model creatively for the better.

In terms of digitalization, Kusnap has been at the forefront in helping many physical businesses move to the digital space. It is a new age e-commerce platform focused on getting as much business to the online space, so they can enjoy boundless benefits which the digital space offers. While more businesses and entrepreneurs are still getting to know about Kusnap, it is important to understand  how effective it has been in helping digitize businesses across Nigeria.

Drive systemic change through cooperation

During the coronavirus pandemic, one lesson we learned was that our societies are intertwined more than we can imagine. Regardless of the issues, the lockdown exposed the significance of collaboration between stakeholders within a business environment. For this to happen, there has to be a foundation based on trust between all individuals involved. Many businesses are quickly understanding the concept of trust in every unit in the supply chain, as well as employees. Cooperation is vital in helping businesses regain their capacity to operate.

Summary

The Nigerian economy is still in a terrible place due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Though most businesses have reopened for operations, many have been laid bare and forced to go into liquidation  due to inefficiencies.

Though it is not really clear what the future holds, entrepreneurs need to learn vital lessons on the series of events in the past year and use them to improve in their business. It is important that business responds to changing market trends, as well as focus on how to thrive through agility, digitization and collaboration. All the ways discussed in this article ensure success in their own way.

As part of the ways which businesses in Nigeria can survive the fallout from Covid-19, Kusnap as an e-commerce platform has is providing digital solutions to help businesses thrive and grow in their market, regardless of the impacts of COVID-19. As entrepreneurs, make it a must to join Kusnap and digitize your business today.

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