“How can we make money and do good?” This is a question we ask ourselves. Today’s GrowthView article builds on the last“Prosperity and growth: how do they go hand in hand?”. These are opportunities for local Nigerian, and African small-scale businesses to grow equitably with the big players, and partner with the United Nations (UN).
Economic growth theory refers to being inclusive as building a business that increases revenue (and profit) while including the poor and remote communities. A dilemma that corporates and now FinTech firms are facing, as the UN is requesting evidence on business inclusiveness – particularly to show results that align to the targets of the UN’s SDG #8 on economic development. So, what can corporates learn from small-scale entrepreneurs on what it means to be ‘inclusive’?
More simply put, how can we facilitate good money?
There are two parts to the question (1) what role do we play as individuals in building these businesses? (2) what tools do we need,to make it happen?
Local lens: In Nigeria and throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, the culture and customs have nurtured talented designers, artisans, agriculturists and tech innovators; from small-scale to larger scale exporters. So how can we see more growth in cross-border trade or local Nigerian partnerships with single or family-owned businesses?
- First, what do I enjoy doing that sparks my enthusiasm?Creativity comes in many forms and what drives us can be money, satisfaction or the value we have in seeing others enjoy our product (self-fulfilment and pride). This is the inner catalyst that inspires someone to develop a new product or service. Most importantly, the aim that we are“all better off” is key.
- Second, how can I put my idea into action? Start small and grow big. Whether you are a small business owner or a graduate, make use of the tools and infrastructure you have available now. Then, explore the bigger “deals”. This allows you to take minimal risk and you learn if it fails, and gain when it succeeds. Acting on the values is the second part.
When we focus on ‘big’ enterprises, wemay lose sight of opportunities right at our door step. Niche business ideasintopics of research, tech, trade or services can also generate revenue today, and potentially be the inclusive as well as effective examples for the future, as examples.
Global lens: As a CEO of a Forbes 100, the question on inclusiveness is his or her cross-road to equity.Do I invest in expanding to a new region without having any income benefit? Should I be inclusive although it is not my comparative advantage? Can I partner with a company or local organisation that can sell my products (affordably)?
The solution is simple: your business is inclusive if it does right. Values and actions.
The “good product” is one that makes lives better. Isn’t that the purpose of a product or service? Making our life more enjoyable, easier or healthier? Of course, there are products and services that are for leisure and distractions – that is still making it more enjoyable. Although, if this satisfaction is at the cost of others, then it defeats the point of equitable growth.
- MSME in Nigeria:It is straight-forward for a local farmer, kiosk or family-owned shop in their community or health professionals in rural parts of Nigeria. They are inclusive and have direct access to their vicinity.
- International retailer:Despite corporate goodwill, it is not simple for multi-nationals in emerging markets and rural parts of Sub-Saharan Africa. They could expand and access more segments.
Corporates face a tricky conundrum.Should I expand in parts of Nigeria where the customers are spread out and potential revenue low? The debate between values and economics comes into play.
In sum, look around, share and interact with your community and society.It helps give perspective on local work, small-business and the ideas you want to kick-start.
We sometimes forget to open our minds and eyes to observe things around us, to the society we live and share our lives with. This explains why the term “inclusive” is a novelty for some corporates, as all they’ve learned or been exposed to is the game of “monopoly”.
- Inclusiveness is a value
- Equitable means greater gains for all
- Your skills are asset
- Partner locally and wisely
- Try out your idea (small-scale and risk free)
Stay tuned for the second part, which addresses the tools that can enable equitable and inclusive business ideas, especially in sectors such as fashion, retail, music and more.
Wehbe is passionate about helping others and fighting poverty & injustice. She is the founder of GrowthView. She writes from Zurich, Switzerland.[email protected]
Cell: +41 79 950 4760