The lockdown in most naijan cities put in place as part of measures to stop the spread of Coronavirus has caused a lot of businesses to suffer losses while also creating an opportunity for innovative ideas through digital technology to sail through.
Before the outbreak of COVID-19, the e-commerce market in naija was worth around $20bn.
It was projected to rise to $50bn over the next seven years, contributing at least N25trn to the country’s Gross Domestic Product.
New entrants in the e-commerce sector are taking advantage of the restrictions in movement to create a digital presence for their businesses and offer new services to customers.
“I used to be a housewife, I stopped working in 2017 after I had my first child but before then, I have always wanted to own my own business.
“I have a lot of friends who sell hair or clothes on Instagram, so when the lockdown started and it was difficult to buy food items, that was when I thought of creating my shopping service,” Blessing Ameh told SaharaReporters.
Ameh, who now uses her car to serve as a personal shopper for some Lagosians during the lockdown, said she has been making enormous profit and plans to expand her services.
Explaining how it works, she said, “I created an Instagram page and asked people to send their shopping list to me. Then I go out and buy it as an essential service worker and I deliver it at a fee.
“My customers are happy because it saves them time and they don’t have to worry about contracting Coronavirus.”
Emeka Okoli, who also lives in Lagos and owns two dispatch motorcycles, said business has been booming and he would like to expand as soon as possible.
He said, “To be honest with you, I work in a bank, so I’m financially literate. This for me at the beginning was to create multiple streams of income. I used to collaborate especially with Instagram vendors but now my client base has grown and demand is high.
“Now, people want to send my riders to pick up items for them and they are willing to pay because they are scared of going out. I am hoping to expand as soon as possible.”
Website and app developers are also leveraging on the situation to offer their services.
“We used to design maybe one website a month, an app if we are lucky and even then clients don’t pay on time.
“Since the lockdown began, we have been working nonstop and the pay is usually upfront now.
“The designs are usually for new online shops or businesses who already exist but have to go online to survive. Everybody is online now,” says Karo Dabo, team lead of an Abuja-based design company.
While new opportunities are booming for urban dwellers as a result of the avenues presented by the Internet, rural dwellers are yet to fully enter the show as a result lack of electricity and disposable income to purchase smartphones to access the Internet.
Notwithstanding, naijans from every corner of the country are daily finding their ways to the Internet to provide good and services to an increasingly available market created by the Coronavirus outbreak and attendant lockdown of most parts of the country.
SaharaReporters, New York