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Entrepreneurs explain how business activities have dropped since COVID-19 outbreak

Nigerian entrepreneurs say the outbreak of coronavirus has hurt their businesses and altered their plans.

They call on the federal and the state governments to financially support them after the outbreak to bounce back and rejig the economy.

Owolabi Mercy, a Lagos-based entrepreneur who deals in bags, shoes, clothing items and pastries, told BusinessDay that since the outbreak, demand for her products had been slow with suppliers refusing to communicate with her.

“When the pandemic started, my suppliers were initially responding, but I can’t reach them anymore,” she said.

 “I am running out of stock and there is no opportunity for me to restock because I cannot travel, and logistics have suspended operations as well,” Mercy said.

She further explained that her operating costs were still high because she had to keep her generators running, pay for electricity and other similar bills.

“But I am not making sales like I was before, and I could as well just sit at home till this whole crisis goes away,” she said.

Similarly, Oyedeji Dolapo, a mixologist, said although she was still able to get ingredients from her suppliers, she had to restructure her business operations and package the drinks for customers who ordered—at slightly higher prices.

Coronavirus has killed more than 50,000 people across the world and infected over 1 million. Nigeria has over 190 cases already, and there are fears the disease will spread further. Many businesses, especially micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), are hard hit by the disease which has elicited lockdown in many countries including some parts of Nigeria.

Supplies have been slow or non-existent as many MSMEs import from China and other countries that are on lockdown.

Local logistics services for goods delivery had been functional till the federal government placed a restriction on people’s movement in Lagos, Abuja and Ogun State, which are business hubs, to prevent widespread of the disease.

Temiloluwa Smyth, CEO, Smyth Couture, said since the pandemic people had stopped making outfits because there had been no events or occasions to wear them to.

Smyth, however, remained hopeful that once the pandemic subsided, business would  return to normal.

“People have to wear outfits so I believe after this phase passes, business will return to normal,” he said.

Bongo Adi, a Lagos-based economist, said this was a bleak period for many businesses, especially the MSMEs, as no country had been able to arrest the virus neither did anyone know when it would be over.

“MSMEs will experience a bad period because no one has been spared from the heat of the virus,” he said.

“It is going to cause a vicious cycle as people are apprehensive and very soon will refrain from buying. This will affect the sales of these businesses and their revenue as well,” Adi said.


Gbemi Faminu

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