Expert, Mercy Odibe, advises budding int’l traders to start from ‘easy export’

Any entrepreneur wanting to venture into international trade usually gets confused about what product to start with, and who the buyer could be.

A trainer, Mercy Odibe, who heads the ‘Women in Export’ desk at the Institute of Export Operations and Management (IEOM) located in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, gave advice at the conclusion of training in the June 2022 diet. Her simple advice is; start with easy export; start with friends and family abroad to build confidence and create market out there.

According to her, entrepreneurs think export is a very big project requiring huge funds.

Explaining easy export, Odibe said there are some things one can export at 30 kilograms levels. “You can send things to friends and families outside and you will still get paid. Little by little, people out there will get used to your products and soon, there is demand boom for it.

She said to make it even easier, those trained by the institute (IEOM) can come with their products and get help in registration for export, packaging and proper labeling to international standards. “We take you hands-on along the processes. If it is to be dried, we guide you in doing this so it won’t get moisture.”

The master class for export involves days in the classroom and a field day to the export terminal to see operations and Customs activities in motion.

Another exciting aspect, she revealed, is the She-Trades desk. She said the training enables the women participants to understand the international requirements for women to join She-Trades. “This would help you mitigate some of the risks associated with business and export trade. Having the right knowledge in export would help the participant know what to do and reduce hassles.

“She-Trades is a platform where we also assist the women to register to gain visibility at that international platform. They would meet women from other parts of the country and the world. Countries and companies visit that platform to see people they can do business with. That one is a way of assisting women. It helps them to know they can do it.”

She said some of the trainees have started exporting. “If you train and you are not ready, it will be useless. Try and put in the skills you got in the training. Then, you see the result.”

Now, I know export is possible: Okechi Eberechukwu Nzedibe, a pharmacist and entrepreneur. The pharmacist, who is the Class Governor, supported Odibe’s view regarding the impact of the training. Apart from pharmacy practice, she has been into production of some agro-allied products such as plantain chips, but did not know how to access the international market.

Now, she thinks she is export ready because she thinks the training is full of impact. “Now, I know export is possible. I had always been thinking of how to get my products beyond the shores of Nigeria. It looked very ambiguous. Now, with the exposure of the Master Class, export now looks possible because I have gone through the nine modules. It has exposed me to what export is all about; how to navigate the export waters; the processes involved; the products that can be exported and the ones not allowed.

Read also: Nigeria’s strength should now be in non-oil export –Temidayo

“Globally, governments are going off oil/gas sector which is Nigeria’s main stay for foreign currency earning. I realise it is time for us to move fast to non-oil exports. That is why I am really interested, and I came to know what other products are exportable that I can join so as to help build Nigeria’s foreign exchange reserve.”

Nzedibe is ready; “The world should wait for my products because every step I needed and all the information I needed for it, I have got from this training.”

There thus seems to be a huge awakening for non-oil export trade in the south-south, probably going by the awareness campaigns and trainings steadily being carried out by the South-South zonal headquarters of the Nigerian Export Promotions Council (NEPC) currently headed by Joe Itah.

Entrepreneurs who have attended the awareness campaigns have often registered for export. Some have gone ahead to get professional and hands-on training at the export institute run by the Executive Secretary, Ofon Udofia.

Most others are said to have formed export cooperative groups to begin to export products, thus attracting investments into the export business to earn forex.

This may be why the IEOM wants to attract women into international trade with higher incentives right at this onset so that women would not begin to play catch-up later.

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