My good friend, Peter, is one of the smartest persons I know. But two months ago, he lost his job.
He used to work for one of the big oil and gas companies, and his job was what you would consider as ‘steady’,‘well-paid’ and ‘secure’.
But since the effects of the slump in international crude oil prices hit Nigeria, no less than 250,000 people have lost their jobs this year across several sectors, especially in banking, oil and gas, and telecoms.
Sadly, this trend of job losses will likely continue in 2016 as Nigeria’s economy tightens.
If your plan for 2016 is to brush up your CV and look for a job or a better one, I wish you the best of luck. You’ll surely need it in the new year.
Throughout history, in times of economic difficulty, salary earners are one of the worst hit, and they usually suffer the most.
That’s why 2016 will be the year that entrepreneurship, and not employment, will be the best way to make a living in Nigeria.
Peter had never imagined he would ever be out of a job. Now, with a wife, two young children, and several relatives who depend on him, he has started thinking very seriously about ‘smart’ ways to make a living in the new year.
I’ll also give you real life examples and success stories of Nigerians like you who are already exploiting these lucrative business opportunities.
1. Online Services
The guys in the picture above are the founders of Printivo, a small business located in the Yaba area of Lagos. In October 2015, this young business received over $100,000 in funding from foreign investors.
Printivo is actually built on a simple business idea. It designs and prints corporate business cards, letterheads and notepads for all kinds of companies. The only difference is Printivo is a full-scale online service, customers can make their orders over the internet.
Printivo’s service is fast, convenient and very affordable. It’s no surprise the business has become very successful in a short time.
Just in case you haven’t noticed, online business models are taking over Nigeria. Products and services which used to only be available through physical and traditional channels are going online.
You can now buy phones, electronics and household appliances online (eg.Konga and Jumia). You can also buy food products online (eg.Supermart.ng and Gloo.ng).
So, as the days go by, more products and services are moving to the internet in Nigeria. But there are still many more that haven’t gone online yet.
Car spare parts, handicrafts and art work, personal and home care services (like nannies, drivers, chefs etc.). All of these and more are still unavailable online in Nigeria.
In 2016, more smart Nigerians are going to bring some of these online.
Will you be one of them?
You got it right. The white guy in the picture is Sir Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin, and one of the richest guys in the world.
And the lady he’s giving a peck? That’s 20-something year-old Odiete Eseoghene, a Nigerian fashion entrepreneur and founder of Hesey Designs, a label that specializes in footwear. She only graduated from university about two years ago.
Guess what? Ese doesn’t even make the shoes herself. She works with skilled local footwear makers who bring her creative designs to life. Her designs are very unique because she blends local Nigerian fabrics and materials with western styles to create hybrids that are very beautiful and attractive.
Ese has won several awards and hit the spotlight when she designed the sneakers worn by Sir Richard Branson, during the launch of Virgin Atlantic’s new uniforms and 30th Anniversary celebration in London.
Footwear is one of those interesting niches in the fashion industry that’s not yet as competitive as the rest. It will surely be a fertile ground for new businesses in the new year.
If a young and fresh university graduate can pull it off, what exactly is stopping you?
3. Paper bags
Did you know that Nigeria is one of just a handful of countries in Africa that still allow the unregulated use, importation and production of ‘nylon’ bags?
South Africa, Kenya, Senegal, Tanzania, Cameroon, Rwanda, Botswana, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Ethiopia, Uganda, Malawi and even Mauritania have all banned or limited the use of nylon bags.
Plastic ‘nylon’ bags are dangerous to the environment. They clog drainage systems and cause flooding, and they’re one of the biggest killers of animals and wildlife. Worse still, with the growing consciousness of protecting the environment, nylon bags may not exist for very long in Nigeria.
In countries where the use of nylon bags have been banned or limited, there has been a boom in paper bag production.
Paper bags are a very viable alternative to nylon bags. They’re cheap and easy to produce, and they’re not harmful to the environment.
Businesses like supermarkets, fast food outlets, and pharmacies are just a few that will have a huge need for paper bag packaging. That’s where you come in!
Sunlight is the most abundant natural resource in Nigeria. Forget crude oil and solid minerals!
We receive no less than 300 days of free God-given sunlight every year, yet most parts of the country lack access to electricity and we all suffer serious power outages.
Solar is already changing people’s lives in Tanzania, Rwanda and most parts of East Africa. Even people in remote areas have access to round-the-clock electricity. Thanks to the amazing wonders of solar.
In Nigeria, solar is already making moves into the market. In 2016, and over this decade, I predict that a new generation of millionaires will emerge from the young solar power industry.
Have you noticed that even oil companies like Total are already selling solar-powered devices? In most Total petrol filling stations in Lagos and Abuja, these solar devices are sold under an ‘Awango’ brand.
So, if the ‘big boys’ are diversifying into solar, it’s time for smart Nigerian entrepreneurs to smell the cookie!
Solar power is the future. Don’t forget, I told you first.