ਸਵਾਲ: I have been following closely your interesting articles on the concept of “Bottom of the pyramid” marketing or markets for poor, which seems relatively unknown in Nigeria, despite the glaring huge opportunities in the country for it to strive. What do you suggest could be done to make it gain grounds in Nigeria? – David Jatto
In consonance with what I have been propagating all this while, a recent report of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has it that about 113 million of the estimated 160 million Nigerians live in poverty – under $1 per day. Among so much contained therein, the North East and North West geo-political zones of the country recorded the highest poverty rates with 77.7 percent and 76.3 percent respectively, ਜਦਕਿ 90% of the population of Sokoto state was classified as poor. Going by the activities of Boko Haram (the Islamic terrorist group) in mainly these areas, one can easily decipher the link between level of poverty and insecurity.
This, and incidence of insecurity in many other parts of Nigeria, comprise a major reason why the government should not rest on it oars towards stemming this embarrassing upsurge in poverty level, while the country’s economy is growing. My ‘preaching’ on giving attention to markets for poor (M4P) or Bottom of the pyramid (ਬੀ.ਓ.ਪੀ.) marketing is indeed very relevant at this time.
If my clarion call for the adoption of this concept is being equated to competing with biblical John the Baptist in his acclaimed “crying in the wilderness” (John 1:23), so be it. What remains essential is arousal of interests in appropriate quarters towards alleviating the demise of the poor, through creating markets for the poor and BoP marketing.
As activities in the country’s rural areas tend to be synonymous with this market, related initiatives must be directed at having impact in the rural segment through effective marketing strategies, even where initially there is obvious justification to subsidize market development aimed at the poor. I urge the authorities here to look at the market creation approach to development as a mainstream development approach.
Time has come for the private sector in Nigeria to collaborate with development, with input from the government, to commence consideration towards evolving various ‘indigenous’ business models based on BoP concept. This should be with the realisation that markets for poor (reflective of market approaches to development) often require completely different ‘out of the box’ business models in order to reach the poor. ਹੋਰ ਸ਼ਬਦਾਂ ਵਿਚ, non-application of the usual business process.
Poor people, for example, cannot pay larger sums up-front and sometimes is out of this world for a family earning less than $1 per day to spend much more at a time. Innovative financing mechanisms such as installment buying, rental or leasing could be the ‘oil’ to make those markets work. To help fast track initiatives in markets for poor in Nigeria, the following could suffice (through market creation approach to development, with emphasis on specific products/services which have a high poverty alleviation impact):
– ਰਿਸਰਚ ਕਦਰ in Nigeria are relevant to initiatives in innovations for improving traditional technologies. Application of existing resources could be channeled to researches whose outcome would impact on markets for poor. They should however commence looking in-wards, playing a part in this fast growing concept of creating markets for the poor.
– Value chains could be created in markets for poor as the trend is for agricultural goods to be sold in other markets (e.g. in supermarkets). This calls for market channels which require that rural farmers are organised and linked to value chains driven by private sector companies, likely making them at risks from exploitation than from marginalization. It is an outstanding opportunity for rural and small farmers to participate in such value chains, provided they get the necessary support with input, technical assistance, working when they are often well organized.
– A series of measures and interventions are needed to upgrade or transform traditional industries, such as the “Akwete cloth weaving” industries, and others indigenous to Nigeria’s rural setting.
– Development agencies should play vital roles, mainly as facilitators, who should act, not on behalf of the private sector, but subtly support it so that it can perform its tasks.
– The Government should come in as implementer/facilitator, to private business development services (BDS) facilitators and providers who would deliver training, counseling and technology. ਇਹ (trainers and counselors) could recover their costs by charging fees to the small businesses for their services, and provide support in areas such as product development, market creation, and marketing.
The recent activities of the National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP), a government’s agency, whereby inventors, businesses, other stakeholders are being invited in a new programme aimed at poor farmers, conforms with this. The essence is to provide farmers access to credits, in order to add value to farming activities.
David, while I realize that growth in agriculture and rural non-farm economy is required to reduce rural poverty and then narrow the urban-rural divide, as a marketing strategist, I have even devised a business model which makes for an affordable use of the mobile phone among Nigeria’s rural farmers (for enhanced productivity). This will be through collaborative initiatives of a mobile phone manufacturer, a service provider, a related government parastatal, and a very relevant government ministry. I hope one will not be discouraged from putting a blue print forward due the usual Nigerian bureaucratic bottle necks. You will obviously call me a “mumu” if I open up with details here.
Considering what a business model is – The way by which a business creates and captures value within a market network of producers, suppliers and consumers, or “what a company does and how it makes money from doing it” – I urge the Nigerian private sector to consider evolving business models adaptable to the Nigerian rural environment, where the bulk of the poor reside, to help them step out of poverty.
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