By Onuwa Lucky Joseph
The stories are clearly not good about the times we live in and especially in Nigeria. Medical doctors are lining up to flee abroad, not for the golden fleece, but for the proverbial greener pastures. And with the unemployment rate at 33%, hundreds of thousands of Nigerian professionals, some of them with a string of degrees, can’t find their feet in Nigeria’s super saturated labour market. Where then, one may ask, is the hope for rural folks, especially the women?
Seeing how it’s not enough to merely twiddle thumbs and look askance whenever this issue comes up, Nestle Nigeria decided to be one of the corporates doing the needful for the times. Last week, in Abuja, they had a training for 50 rural women (from the outskirts of the FCT) on the fundamentals of managing their businesses effectively and profitably so that those businesses, known as they are for sustaining families and communities, can grow bigger and become more productive.
Working in concert with specialized non-profits, the training was delivered in the language (Pidgin English) that the women understand and with which they relate with their customers. Otherwise difficult concepts were broken down so well and the African medium of singing and dancing was deployed effectively to keep and retain attention while the instructors alternatively got playful and then firm as they strove to drive the message home.
Yes, ultimately, the Nestle business is the better for it. But even more is the impact this makes in the lives of the women who having acquired this knowledge are most likely to cascade it down to their apprentices and children who help man the shops with them and whenever they are not around, thus creating a culture of sound business management.
Some of the things this reporter remembers hearing include Bookkeeping. Matching principle. Cost principle. Profit & Loss Account. Etc. If those are the only things the women leave with, it would have been worth it. Aside the training, according to Victoria Uwadoka, Corporate Communications Manager for Nestle, “each of them (rural women) will be attached to a mentor and to a coach who will work them through the sales process. And our sales team is on hand to work with them every single day to ensure they understand bookkeeping and the marketing processes to help scale up their businesses in a sustainable manner”.
Mr. Khaled Ramadan, Nestle Commercial Manager, said that the 50 female retailers would each get 300 cartons of Nestle products from leading categories like Maggi Powder, Maggi Chicken Cube, Milo, Golden Morn and Nescafe. At the end of three months they are expected to pay back 20% of the value and retain the 80% for continuity and scale up of their operations.
Mrs. Uwadoka described the training and empowerment as being “In line with our value and our purpose as a company which is to enhance quality of life for everyone today and for future generations. And you can’t talk about future generations without talking about women…”
It’s a pilot project which Mr. Ramadan volunteered would be extended to other parts of the country as soon as the company makes sure of the execution template and ease of repeatability in different parts of the country.
This is clearly a great concept; a win-win for retailer and manufacturer. Way to go!