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Nigeria clocks 54 on October 1

26 Sep

nigeria-flag

The Federal Republic of Nigeria will clock 54 years as an independent country on October 1 with the government declaring Wednesday a public holiday to mark the anniversary.
Nigeria’s Minister of Interior, Comrade Abba Moro, said in a statement on Thursday that the country’s citizens should build a more united and virile nation that could be the pride of all her people wherever they live.

He enjoined all Nigerians to use the period of the holiday to reflect on the giant strides made by government in the development of the country under the transformation and visionary leadership of President Goodluck Jonathan.

President Jonathan

The minister wished all Nigerians a happy Independence holiday celebrations.

Nigeria won independence from Britain in October 1960.

Nigeria Invests in Local Software Development

26 Sep

Software

For the first time in her history, Nigeria is set to roll out funding, in the sum of $9m, for local software development, Minister of Communication Technology, Omobola Johnson revealed at the kickoff of the DEMO Africa event in Lagos on Thursday.

The DEMO Africa event, which is holding in Nigeria for the first time since it was launched about three years ago will see 40 African start-ups pitch their solutions on how they intend to use technology to create opportunities and solve challenges. They are doing this with the hope of securing more funding that will enable them take their ideas and innovations to the next level, Ventures Africa says.

Omobola noted that there is need for African governments to leverage on internet opportunities which could directly create job opportunities that will generate income, create wealth, jobs, new business opportunities and economic expansion.

“One report highlights this potential and predicts that the internet can contribute up to $300 billion to Africa’s GDP by 2025 and this is from an estimated $18 billion in 2013,” she said.

How Nigeria Plans To Protect Schoolgirls From Boko Haram

25 Sep

Safe Schools Initiative

Schoolgirls in Nigeria are asking for measures as simple as electricity in schools to help protect them from kidnapping by Boko Haram, a Nigerian official said Wednesday.

Five months after the Islamist group abducted over 200 schoolgirls in Chibok, Nigeria, the Nigerian government and international donors are starting an initiative to protect students from future militant attacks. In recent years Boko Haram has waged war on secular education as part of its insurgency in northeast Nigeria, killing hundreds of children in attacks on schools.

Nigeria’s economy minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who helped launch Nigeria’s Safe Schools Initiative, told The WorldPost she was “stunned” when students told her their biggest security concern was the lack of 24-hour electricity.

When Boko Haram abducted the Chibok schoolgirls in April, they arrived at the school during the night and pretended to be Nigerian soldiers who were there to protect the students. Okonjo-Iweala said, “Maybe if there had been adequate light, they could have seen [the militants].”

“You’d think they’d ask for high walls and so on, but they said we want light so we can see who is moving around,” she said.

The Safe Schools Initiative, which will launch a pilot program next week in 30 schools in northeastern Nigeria, seeks to forestall militant attacks by upgrading security in schools. It will start by “installing modern alarm systems and proper fencing, facilitating community participation in protecting the schools, and training security guards,” according to a press release.

“What means safety and security to [the students] are those kind of basic things that are sometimes missing in the schools,” Okonjo-Iweala said, mentioning that the initiative is also looking into security improvements such as solar panels, panic buttons and better toilet facilities for girls.

Ngozi Okonjo Iweala

Prof. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said the Steering Committee of the Safe Schools Initiative has started mapping out short, medium and long term strategies for making schools safer

Okonjo-Iweala, a former World Bank managing director who has been widely lauded for anti-corruption efforts during her time in the Nigerian government, is launching the initiative along with U.N. Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown and Nigerian business leaders.

While Nigeria has Africa’s largest economy and some of the world’s largest oil reserves, the country’s northeast is severely underdeveloped. Some analysts say endemic poverty and government corruption in the region led to the rise of Boko Haram, which has been waging a deadly insurgency for half a decade.

But at least one critic, Nigerian journalist Karibu R. Anwar, has warned that that the initiative will be an “exercise in futility” if Nigeria’s under-resourced military cannot effectively counter Boko Haram attacks. “It takes Boko Haram’s improvised explosive devices and rocket propelled grenades only a few minutes to raze a school that takes us one year to rebuild,” Anwar wrote on The WorldPost’s blog on Monday.

The military also came under fire in the aftermath of the Chibok kidnapping after locals said they warned authorities about the impending attack but no troops came to protect the girls, a charge the army denied.

“Yes, military presence is crucial to help push back the [militant] advance but it is not the only thing. … You’ve got to think about community awareness,” Okonjo-Iweala responded. Many militants have been caught after villagers first spotted strangers in their midst, she said, adding that such early warning systems could help people run for shelter or call for help in advance.

Some 650,000 people have fled Boko Haram attacks in northeast Nigeria in the last year. The population of Maiduguri, the state capital of Borno, has more than doubled, and the government is trying to set up schools for children in the internally displaced camps, Okonjo-Iweala said. In areas that remain too dangerous for children to go to school, the government has offered to transfer students to boarding schools in safer towns, and more than 2,000 students have been selected for transfer already, according to the minister.

The Chibok schoolgirls remain in captivity as the insurgency rages on. Okonjo-Iweala said the government was doing everything it could militarily and politically, but with the “maximum precaution” for the hostages’ safety.

“People want the girls to come out alive,” she said. “It’s like your own child is lost and you can’t sleep peacefully when you are thinking of this every day.”

Boko Haram members surrender in Nigeria, Cameroon

25 Sep
Boko Haram

A total of 135 Boko Haram terrorists have surrendered and handed over their weapons to Nigerian troops around Biu Local Government Area of Borno State

ABUJA, Nigeria — Hundreds of Islamic extremists have surrendered in Nigeria and neighbouring Cameroon following the military’s recent victories with air and ground attacks, military authorities said Wednesday.

The Nigerian Defense Ministry has said it has killed hundreds of insurgents recently in the country’s northeast.

Several militant commanders were among the dead including Mohammed Bashir, whom the Nigerian military identified as a double who posed in videos as Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau, a military statement said Wednesday.

The military has claimed Shekau was killed in battle last year.

Mohammed Bashir

Mohammed Bashir, whom the Nigerian military identified as a double who posed in videos as Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau, was also killed.

Nigeria’s military said it was victorious around Konduga town just 35 kilometers (22 miles) from Maiduguri, birthplace of Boko Haram and the headquarters of the military offensive to contain the Islamic uprising.

“It became apparent that the terrorists … were determined to take over communities around Maiduguri, which is their prime target,” the statement said, adding the insurgents made four attempts to take Konduga between Sept. 12 and 17.

It said 135 insurgents surrendered Tuesday night, some at Buni-Yadi some 200 kilometers (125 miles) west of Konduga and others at Michika, 165 kilometers (100 miles) south of Konduga.

Cameroon’s defense ministry said more than 300 Boko Haram fighters have surrendered there in the past three weeks. Spokesman Lt. Col. Didier Badjeck said that the militants have given up their arms and asked for asylum in Cameroon. Their fate has not been decided.

Fighters from neighbouring Cameroon, Niger and Chad have been identified fighting alongside Nigeria’s homegrown Boko Haram group, which in recent weeks also has been attacking border towns and villages in Cameroon.

Boko Haram had seized a string of towns and declared an Islamic caliphate in a corner of northeast Nigeria before the setback suffered at Konduga.

#ThanksAMillion! Jumia Nigeria hosts Facebook Fans to Celebrate Reaching 1 Million Likes

24 Sep

Jumia Nigeria

Jumia Nigeria is one of the biggest success stories for social media brands in Nigeria. Jumia recently hit the big milestone of 1 million fans on Facebook with a lot of fan appreciation initiatives to celebrate the big 1 million.

Jumia hosted some of its top Facebook fans to celebrate with on the new beginning of a much bigger online presence to come. The brand hosted 8 fans Henry Dennis, Sanmi Akinrele, Dennis Mgbah, Uzama Osas Martins, Esther Braimoh, Olaolu Falokun and Wuraola Agbaje to show appreciation for their continuous support of the brand since they first launched on the social platform.

In appreciation, Jumia gave the fans a treat with an evening to always remember at a restaurant in Lagos. The evening went on with food drinks and conversations about Social media in Nigeria.

Jumia Nigeria is present on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ with Mobile chat channels on Whatsapp, Palmchat and Blackberry Messenger.

Atiku Finally Declares For President, Promises “Great New Nigeria”

24 Sep

Alhaji Atiku Abubakar

Former Nigeria Vice President, Atiku Abubakar has declared his interest in contesting next year’s presidential election on the banner of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC).

Speaking at the Shehu Musa Yar’ adua Centre in Abuja, where he addressed a World Press Conference on Wednesday, the ex-founding member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), expressed his determination and that of APC to give Nigerians the country of their dreams, devoid of corruption yet bent on enthroning change.

“I want to lead a government where there is zero tolerance for corruption, which will help Nigeria to rise and take its place in the world”, he said.

“It is a call to serve that I have come to answer. With the support and prayers of Nigerians we will build a great new Nigeria for Nigerians”.

He said that he had listened to the concerns of Nigerians while taking note of their never-say-die attitude. He commended the people for seeing hope despite the challenges and refusing to succumb to despair.

“This never say-die-attitude of Nigerians is the reason I can never give up on Nigeria”, he said.

He urged youths to participate in the election, saying they represent the future of Nigeria and are endowed with enormous potential.

“In you are the hope of this nation. The 2015 election is about you”, he added.

Atiku said APC remains “strong and capable” of delivering on democratic promises.

In a veiled reference to the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, he said the future of the country should not be subject to experimentation or learning on the job.

“My politics has been guided by fairness and justice. I have what it takes to bring people together and make things happen. We need strong dynamic leadership that would create jobs”, he said.

“With the support of Nigerians the APC shall form the next government in 2015. I have therefore decided to seek nomination on the platform of the APC to contest election for president”.

This will be Atiku’s fourth shot at the presidency, with all previous three ending in failures.

His first trial was in 1992, when he lost the presidential primary of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) to the late MKO Abiola.

In 2007, he came third behind Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari after contesting the presidency on the platform of the then Action Congress (AC).

In 2011, he lost the PDP presidential primary to Jonathan, and afterwards defected to APC.

First Made in Nigeria Satellite to be Launched by 2018

24 Sep

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The Minister of Science and Technology, Abdu Bulama, said on Tuesday in Abuja that Nigeria would design, fabricate, test and launch its indigenous satellite by 2018.

Bulama stated this when he inspected facilities at the Obasanjo Space Centre of the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA).

The minister said the centre had the mandate to launch Nigeria’s first indigenous satellite by 2018, and described space science and technology programme as an important component of the Nigerian dream.

According to him, the satellite programme has a very positive role to play in the transformation agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.

Bulama directed that the assembly, testing and integration centre, and the Synthetic Aperture Rader Satellite, which are under construction, be completed by 2015.

“The Assembly, Testing and Integration Centre, and the Synthetic Aperture Rader Satellite are the nucleus of NASRDA.

“It is here that we will, by the grace of God, launch our first made in Nigeria satellite by 2018.

“By 2018, by the grace of God, we want to see made-in-Nigeria satellite launched. It will be built in this laboratory and launched by our Nigerian scientists,” he said.

According to him, competence and capabilities in satellite technology serve as tool for national growth and a huge contribution to the development and benefit of mankind.

Earlier, the Director-General of NASRDA, Seidu Mohammed, who conducted Bulama round the facilities, said the agency could boast of world-class technology in terms of facilities.

Mohammed said that the about six million U.S. dollars (about N1 billion) annual budgetary allocation to NASRDA was inadequate, given the huge development expected of the agency.

The director-general also said that no serious country allocates less than 100 million U.S. dollars to its space agency.

According to him, NASRDA pays N1.6 million monthly to an Israeli company to maintain facilities at one of the centres of the agency, and also spends 100 pounds servicing its two dishes.

He said the Emergency Management Project of the agency could be used in tracking kidnapped victims, car theft, pipeline vandalisation, fire outbreak, flood and accidents.

Source: NAN

Photo Credit: Dennis Thompson/Dreamstime.com

Nigeria Free Of Ebola, Final Surveillance Contacts Released

24 Sep

Ebola

As the WHO Ebola Response Team published dire predictions of the West African outbreak in the New England Journal of Medicine, overnight – including an updated 70.8% fatality rate – the Health Minister of Nigeria reports that his country is completely free of active Ebola cases and have today released the final victim contacts from surveillance.

In a telephone interview last night where he was preparing for a United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York, Minister of Health Onyebuchi Chukwu, MD, said, “Presently, there is no single case of Ebola virus disease in Nigeria – none.”

Dr. Chukwu provided further details, saying, “No cases are under treatment, no suspected cases. There are no contacts in Lagos that are still under surveillance, having completed a minimum of 21 days of observation.”

In the process of tracing contacts of individuals infected with Ebola, anyone showing no symptoms after three weeks of last known contact with a victim is considered free of any potential for the disease.

Rivers State, whose capital city is Port Harcourt, had been home to over 400 contacts under medical surveillance. As of last night, only 25 contacts remained.

“None of them are showing any symptoms. Tonight [Mon 22 Sept] will mark the end of their 21 days of observation and the plan is to get them discharged from surveillance tomorrow [Tues 23 Sept].”

“Nigeria will be as clean as any other country as far as Ebola virus disease is concerned.”

Achievement in perspective

PBS TV reporter Fred de Sam Lazaro wrote yesterday from Port Harcourt, “The story of Ebola in Nigeria is an unusual and frankly rare one about things going right somewhere in Africa.”

“Nigeria’s achievement truly hits home for a television crew working “in the trenches” of a country the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency describes as “hobbled by … insecurity and pervasive corruption,” added Lazaro, who can be found on Twitter @newshourfred.

His team’s outstanding 8-minute report aired last night on PBS Newshour.

Indeed, the disease has now been contained in Lagos, a city of 21 million people, and Port Harcourt, population 1.4 million.

Nigeria is the most populous country on the African continent, with 177 million people, yet only suffered 21 Ebola cases and eight deaths. In contrast, Liberia has just 4.3 million people yet has experienced 2,710 reported cases, with 1,459 deaths (as of 18 September).

Ebola virus was brought to Nigeria when naturalized American and Liberian Ministry of Finance official, Patrick Sawyer, traveled to Lagos for a meeting of the Economic Commission of West African States (ECOWAS) in Calabar on July 23.

Sawyer had symptoms of the disease before leaving Liberia and became very ill on the flight, infecting others from ECOWAS who greeted him and at the hospital where he was treated and died two days later.

A contact under quarantine in Lagos for some reason took flight to Port Harcourt, about a seven-hour drive. There, he was treated in secret by Dr. Ikechukwu Enemuo. Both Dr. Enemuo later died.

[Update, 24 Sept: A Twitter follower and another reader have contacted me to stay that the diplomat treated by Dr. Enemuo, Olu-Ibukun Koye, survived and has returned to work at ECOWAS. We are attempting to confirm this independently.]

Enemuo infected others, including his wife and sister. Both were successfully treated and recovered. But authorities had to track 477 contacts in the Port Harcourt area.

The need for cautious communication

Dr. Chukwu told me, and has said publicly elsewhere, that one challenge in Nigeria has been preventing stigmatization of anyone under surveillance as well as Ebola survivors.

“Three terms became part of our lexicon: surveillance, quarantine, and isolation.” But these need to be clearly explained, said Dr. Chukwu.

“Surveillance is sort of like house arrest. You don’t criminalize them. The person is actually a victim, not a criminal. We monitor their movements, the rest of the family are counseled about what contact can and can’t be done. We have contact with them everyday. You can imagine what this effort must’ve been like when we had 300 in Lagos and over 400 in Port Harcourt.”

Only when those under surveillance show symptoms – a fever, whether it ends up being Ebola, yellow fever, or malaria – they are put under quarantine.

“That is the first time we are denying that individual the comfort of his own bed. We put him in separately from the isolation ward from those who are confirmed. If malaria, we discharge them to their doctor to be treated for malaria.”

Credit to WHO-assigned physicians

The Ebola survivors in Nigeria were not treated with any experimental drugs. Contract tracing and early identification of cases were managed by isolating the patients and replacing fluids and electrolytes. In some cases, blood transfusions were necessary.

Dr. Chukwu had high praise for WHO Director General, Margaret Chan, for sending physicians to Nigeria. “We only knew about Ebola virus through our medical books. We’ve never seen a single case of Ebola virus until this year. So we needed someone with practical experience who had seen the virus to come and train our doctors what to do and the rest, and then we took over.”

“It is important that we let the world know that WHO did well in sending us doctors with practical experience, said Dr. Chukwu. “But we also worked with the CDC, UNICEF, and MSF in managing the disease.”

Onyebuchi Chukwu

Prof. C. O. Onyebuchi Chukwu, Honourable Minister of Health, Federal Republic of Nigeria. Credit: Dan Nwomeh, Federal Ministry of Health.

Controlling the outbreak in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone

Dr. Chukwu said that a major challenge is that the three countries are contiguous and in need of independent, coordinated oversight. The case in Nigeria was different because once President Goodluck Jonathan declared a health emergency, he had the authority and resources to direct the entire national effort.

In an attempt to centralize the West African response, the current chairman of ECOWAS is the president of Ghana and convening a meeting of West African health ministers together with the director of the Nigerian Center for Disease Control.

In the rest of Africa, Dr. Chukwu suggested that Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone (as well as Senegal) could benefit from the expertise of doctors in Uganda and the DRC who have successfully treated Ebola patients. The rest of the world can certainly provide the aid that is starting to grow: emergency mobile hospitals, supplies such as IV fluids and personal protective equipment.

But people in these countries are also voicing a loss of confidence in their own governments as their economies fail and food and clean water are in short supply.

And, particularly with the killing of aid workers in Guinea last week, the international effort must bolster security to encourage volunteers that they can work safely in what are already extremely demanding conditions.

SOURCE: forbes.com

Online retail Branding: Thinking of switching to online retail or e-commerce? Read these first and know the problems faced

22 Sep

online retail branding

E-commerce is trending but what seems like a “low-investment-fast-growth” business idea to entrepreneurs might not be an accurate assumption. Treat this not as discouragement to start something new, but as a caution note from a person who has faced/seen people facing such problems. If you do have time and money, invest it into something everyone else is not doing. E-commerce is becoming cluttered very quickly and this creates only problems. Read on to understand the major pitfalls of e-commerce as it exists today. These simple points will help you understand the problems a novice entrepreneur or a retail will face when stepping into e-commerce.

1. Capital Intensive: E-commerce is retail in disguise. In fact, it is a bigger, hungrier form of physical retail and all the troubles like warehousing, inventory and supply chain come along. An e-commerce store is expected to have a larger range and as well as cheaper prices. Plus delivery times are always an issue so stocking inventory becomes a must in most cases – and here comes in the role of capital. So either start looking out for investors (which is not an easy task unless you’re a big-shot) or get ready to invest huge sums of your own money. But wait, if you have huge sums of money, why are you throwing it down the e-commerce drain? Buy some gold.

2. Low profit margin: This comes as a shock to anyone outside the e-commerce industry but is obvious to people inside – everyone in India (where I am from) is currently bleeding investor money. Everyone is making a loss. Even the biggest names you hear in the industry (yeah, all the karts, marts, hearts etc) are burning millions every month to acquire customers, reach a massive scale and waiting for others to die out before they can start making any profits. They’re taking returns, replacing products and pampering the consumer while bearing all these expenses just to become larger. There are several reasons why good profit margin is a far-fetched dream for companies:

a. Unit economics: The biggest mistake any uninformed entrepreneur could make is the negligence of contributions like payment gateway cost, packaging cost, shipping and handling cost and effective cataloging cost of articles to the overall margin. In e-commerce, the sourcing margins and effective margins are very different mostly because of these costs. Thus some articles are a better fit for e-commerce and some are not since even on very huge volumes, unit economics don’t work out to be positive. If the selling price of the item is low (and hence absolute sourcing margin is also low), the gateway charges, packaging, shipping and cataloging cost will easily overpower the margin and hence lead to a loss in the transaction.

To head one’s head around this, I coined a term called profit density defined as the ratio of sourcing margin to the additional e-commerce costs incurred in selling it (a major contribution of which is usually shipping cost). Profit densities are different for different categories of products. Books and beauty products have an extremely low profit density and real jewellery and apparel have a relatively high profit density. But since the universe has the habit of leveling things out, items with high profit densities are slow movers and harder to sell online and one’s with low densities are quicker and easier.

b. Cash on delivery: Since it has now become almost necessary to offer a cash on delivery service, it is very counter intuitive to know that all logistic companies actually charge to collect cash on your behalf. They actually charge a huge fixed amount (could vary from as Rs. 30 to Rs. 150 (that’s 0.5 to 2.5 USD) or sometimes even more per package depending on the provider, total volumes offered and also package value) to use your cash! This strongly degrades the unit economics.

Secondly, we all know how valuable cash is for a startup and in such an arrangement a lot of your cash-flow is stuck with the logistic company because they will take a certain amount of time to remit the money they’ve collected on your behalf.

Thirdly, almost always the logistic service provider will actually owe you more money (the cash they collected) than you owe them for delivery, thus making dealing with them a little more difficult (read hell).

Fourthly, customers are much more likely to return packages in cash on delivery cases since they haven’t paid for it. Post which the business has to incur double the shipping cost, lose out on precious inventory for a long time and still maybe end up with something that cannot be sold again, and a customer who will never buy again.

c. Lost, damaged articles: Business owners forget to take into account lost and damaged articles – which neither the service provider nor the customer will be liable for. Who else is left to bear the burden of lost/damaged inventory? This is especially harmful when you’re counting on low margins with huge volumes.

d. Competition: Consumers expect you to be the cheapest. Since you’re on the Internet, you save on the rent of a physical storefront and can pass on that benefit to the customer (very faulty premise which every customer carries in his/her mind). Moreover, pricing on the internet is very transparent so you have to keep a rock solid heart and offer the lowest margins humanly possible. In fact, cash rich competition will also sell at a loss just to drive you out of business. Competition will do everything – low prices, expensive advertisement, relaxed return policies, free shipping etc and these things start becoming must-haves instead of differentiators.

3. Logistics co-ordination and reconciliation: Since you cannot deliver everywhere all by yourself (at least initially), you will need to be dependent on logistic service providers. Fortunately or unfortunately, the performance of your service provider will determine the goodwill you create with your customer. It is certain that you will lose good and loyal customers due to a 3rd party’s poor performance and there is nothing you will be able to do about it. Customers will call your company and your operators will be recipients of heavy verbal abuse from disgruntled customers. Your operator will have no answer because they don’t know what has become of the package after it left your premises. Account reconciliation with service providers is also a similar harrowing experience wherein every kind of case and exception that can arise, will arise. Moreover, each provider will have its own format of reconciliation and reporting which you will need to adapt to.

4. Super strict IT requirements: If one of your founders is not a tech genius, quit right now. IT is the backbone of an e-commerce company and you will need it at every nook and corner of your business. The tech team will need to understand the entire business from end-to-end and develop technology to support every operation along the way. This is one section where mediocrity will fail you badly. An e-commerce company is not just “a website” which firms will make for a few thousand rupees. If you have any intention of making it big, don’t ever think of outsourcing this.

5. Marketing and SEO: Are you a marketing genius? Are you full of ideas on how to sell your product? Can you see how the current companies are doing it wrong? Think again. Marketing for an e-commerce company is a completely different ball game. It requires more of tech knowledge than anything else. You will hear terms like SEO, SEM, SMM floating around in the market and you might not understand them completely, but since you trust your marketing gut you’re brave enough to venture out into an unknown territory. The smarter choice is to keep someone who’s experienced in the field of online marketing close to you or of course to experience and learn yourself. The even smarter choice is to understand that it’s not the same as regular marketing! There are many ways of getting traffic and sales on your site, but they will require a lot of expertise, experimentation, analytics, research and dollars. Ranking #1 on google is like snatching flesh from a hungry lion – it’s hard!

In e-commerce marketing, there are only two aims to fulfill. Generate trust (by highlighting USPs and being persistent) and make yourself discoverable (bring traffic). The former will need time and effort, the latter needs money. In the competitive market out there today, advertising online has become so expensive recovering your spend seems utopian. Again, if you just started up without investor money you will face huge problems in this regard because today the online consumer has unlimited choices to buy from. If you already have raised investor money then there’s no point reading this – you can’t back out now.

6. Vendor management: If you’re thinking of sourcing from various vendors, you might be fine in the short term but this becomes a huge issue when the numbers increase. Every brand/manufacturer/distributor will have their own styles of packing, logistics, billing and measurement. Reconciling all of them is not insurmountable but a very cumbersome task. It is not possible to have everything in stock and usually you will end up accepting orders for items not in your inventory. Vendors in India will never be able to provide a synchronization system wherein you will be able to understand if item is actually in stock even with your supplier(s) for a long time to come. Moreover, manufacturing defects will then become your headache since you’re the seller and your goodwill is at stake now.

If you are a manufacturer and want to extend your physical store, this might not apply but the other problems still live unscathed. But even in that case since you cannot produce everything, you will ultimately end up sourcing from other suppliers. The better solution might be to become a vendor to already established e-commerce websites.

7. Distribution networks: If you want to sell grocery, pharmacy or other items wherein you plan to tie up with retailers, be aware that you will always end up with a very rough experience for the customer. The operations are hugely manual and hence cumbersome and delivery time is of utmost importance.

____

E-commerce is currently booming and everyone wants to start a website to sell stuff. What people miss are some subtle points that make e-commerce a difficult creature to rein. A genuine question that arises is that if no one is making profit, why are people continuing, why are investors investing and why are new e-shops opening everyday. The truth is everyone is playing the top-line game – not worrying about the bottom-lines at this moment. Companies want to increase their top-lines to a very large scale and rule their respective markets post which their marketing spend would decrease and a huge customer pool would have been accumulated. Beyond this point profitability would be possible but there would only be a handful survivors.

The only exit strategy that remains for e-commerce companies is either an acquisition or an IPO. Fire sales and shutdowns happen all the time but they’re not noticed by a lot of people – examples are Letsbuy and Taggle. So if you’re fully convinced that e-commerce is your life path, best of luck but be very cautious of the problems described above.

What’s your opinion?

About the author: Maniraj Singh Juneja is an experienced entrepreneur and director at Amitoje India – India’s leading retail/POP branding and execution firms. You can visit www.amitoje.com to know more. Write to maniraj[at]amitoje[dot]com. He founded an e-commerce company called madeinhealth which later got acquired by a larger player.

Nigeria Heads to Benin with Winning Form

22 Sep

Nigeria ITF

Fresh from their successful outing at the ITF West & Central Africa Junior Circuit in Togo where they won 6 gold, 4 silver and 3 bronze medals to emerge overall winners of the double-phased tournament, Nigerian players are looking good for another dominant outing as the tournament moved to Benin Republic with hostilities commencing today.

An eventful period for Nigerian tennis will also see youngster, Christopher Itodo competing at the 14&U African Masters which holds from September 22-28 in Cairo, Egypt.

Itodo was invited due to his performance at the African Junior Championship held last March in Nairobi, Kenya.
For the Circuit, Joseph Ubon, who accounted for three of Nigeria’s six gold medals in Togo, will be spearheading the country’s quest for honour at the event holding at the Tennis Club de L’Amitie, Cotonou.

Ubon completed a great tournament on Saturday by beating Malawi’s Chisomo Luweta 6-3 6-3 in the boy’s final to retain the title he won against compatriot, Mohammed Mohammed in the first phase. Nigerian duo of Emmanuel Audu and Abubakar Tswako won the doubles title by beating Gueninle Ouattara and Chisomo Luweta of Malawi in the final
The tournament in Togo is rated as Grade 5 by the ITF and will have 48 players in the boy’s main draw while 32 players feature in the girl’s draw which will also serve off this morning.

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