It has been a hard year, and while most people are bracing up for an even harder 2016, this author begs to differ. And here are my Christmas musings.
So what might be the reason for this optimism? New leadership. New leadership at the top hopefully bringing sanity, fiscal prudence, and direction. Top of the doom and gloom list of course is the sharp drop in crude oil prices. This has in effect brought a sharp reduction in the country’s foreign exchange earnings. But let’s ask, exactly how much oil is there in Germany, Japan, France or Britain?
But we digress. What are the opportunities come 2016?
Two main areas seem apparent and are waiting to be exploited by the bold and the visionary: ”building” capacity, literally, and exports.
Since his campaign started, the President has made it abundantly clear that infrastructural development will be pivotal to this government’s economic policy planning, short term and long term. Specifically, this administration is going to focus heavily on housing.
And here’s the irony – there simply aren’t enough skilled or even semi skilled workers in Lagos or Nigeria to meet the government’s deliverables. They simply do not exist. And so, there’s a gap. Gaps mean opportunities. Do you train as an artisan, or do you train artisans and either farm them out as an entrepreneur or just concentrate on developing required skills for the industry? Could running a vocational centre of excellence be a good idea? You need bricklayers, masons, painters, carpenters, tilers, steel workers, welders, diggers, building supervisors, and even food vendors. Where do you want to play? You need graphics designers, Autocad specialists, draftsmen. Opportunities. And those opportunities will be exploited. The question is, by who?
We have watched the Naira’s free fall against the USD, and in typical fashion,we’ve moaned and mourned the depreciation of our currency as if it somehow devalues us as a people.
Yet many countries China and Japan for example, have deliberately maintained weak currencies against the dollar, and almost started trade wars as a result of their monetary policies.
But what you may ask does this have to do with the entrepreneur battling with the daily grind in Lagos? Let us try to link things up.
The countries who deliberately maintained weak currencies, did so to ensure a positive balance of trade ie, more exportation than importation. And the mechanism is pretty straightforward: as a currency weakens, the Naira against the dollar for example, more goods denominated in Naira will be available for the same amount of USD. Nigerian-made or sourced goods are becoming more and more attractive. In other words, this is the time to actively and seriously explore the export market!
And the good news is that you don’t need to have access to thousands of Naira for shiploads of commodities. Start small. If you can find buyers (and this is probably the major hurdle),you can export pepper, ginger,okra, etc. Nigerians currently export flowers, snails, mushrooms, and all manner of hitherto unknown yet perfectly legal items and commodities. Do a little research. Or, let us do the research for interested parties. Either way, the point is to turn what seems like a national calamity into opportunities.
2016 is set to be the most successful year for many many entrepreneurs, especially those who read the signs accurately and position themselves for opportunities like those identified here.
Here’s to a happy and prosperous new year.
Jayy Ashton, email@example.com