Bunmi Aliyu is the Project Manager with Clarion Events, with an extensive experience in marketing, communications strategy and business development. Her cross functional experience in private and public sector has made her a versatile leader with robust professional background in the area of international trade promotions and the African retail markets. She also drives the growth of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) in the country.
In this interview, Aliyu examines the nitty-gritty of small businesses, trade promotions, retail markets and more.
Accessing SMEs, international trade promotions and African retail markets
I have worked across private and public sectors, focusing on international trade promotions and marketing strategy. I have also worked with organisations like the Lagos State Government, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, etc. I have handled projects for organisations in IT, FMCG and retail advising on business development, route to market and market expansion. But my submission is that the retail industry in Nigeria is still enjoying a period of positive transformation marked by steady growth with the highest retail sales in sub-Saharan Africa is about $125 billion. Of course, as with every growing sector, there has been some challenges but the resilience and innovation of the players in this market has allowed our retail industry to remain strong and healthy.
Increasing profit and growing businesses
SMEs across the country have come of age and we need to start looking at the direction of growing small businesses the very best way we can. Recall that the Bank of Industry and microfinance institutions have always pledged their support in the area of infusing as much needed funds into SMEs to thrive. To my mind, all that have been more about mere words and papers which to bot really actualise the mandate of this institutions that are meant to cater for the financial needs of the average SME player in the country. Any average business owner wants to be able to walk into a bank and get a soft loan for his business and be able to conveniently pay back, so long as the interest rate is not so outrageous. This is the bane of increasing profit and growing businesses.
Growing economy through SMEs
Quite a lot is being done by the government and private sector led initiatives to resolve a lot of these issues bothering on trade promotions, retail market and small businesses. However, for our SMEs to grow rapidly, low demand is a major factor that must be resolved which is why platforms like the Interior Gifts and Fashion (IGF) Expo is very important as it gives the SME manufacturers opportunities to put their products side by side with international brands. I don’t believe the solution to low demand is closing our borders or banning importation of goods which some manufacturers continue to lobby for because that is unsustainable and kills competitiveness. SMEs must focus inward and outside Nigeria In search of more demand. For example, Africa’s eight largest consumer markets are anticipated to reach a value of $1.25 trillion by 2025.
Retail events organised globally
Clarion Events is one of the world largest exhibition organisers. As part of the 200 plus trade fairs we organise annually around the world, we also run over 30 retail events globally and support over 5,000 businesses, exhibitors and sponsors. That attracts over 70,000 discerning retailers and professionals from across the world, including buyers like Amazon, John Lewis and so many others. On the forthcoming IGF Expo, which we are hosting in November, we have over 200 plus manufacturers and suppliers of interiors, gift and fashion items from 13 countries, including Canada, USA, UK, India, Turkey, China, among others. During our upcoming IGF Expo on November 13-15, we will be taking bulk, wholesale and retail orders. Some companies are looking to meet and appoint agents and distributors across West Africa. We have top international brands attending this event, including Premier Housewares, Damat, Loft, Daniel Gianni, and the rest.
The event is duly supported by major associations that form part of the advisory board, including The Retail Council, The Nigerian Institute of Architects, The African Association of Interior Designers, etc. Apart from this we are in collaboration with Buyers clusters across Nigeria. The event will be featuring over 100 local designers and international brands, hundreds of new and exciting design-led and everyday home, décor, fashion and giftware products will be on display.
Impact on Nigerian manufacturer
This event allows Nigerian manufacturers to showcase their products side by side with international brands and gives buyers the opportunity to compare side by side Nigerian and international brands. Also, brands could meet buyers and stockists from other countries.
IGF Expo is designed with people’s business in mind. Expect major brands from UK, USA, Turkey, India, Canada, UAE and EU. International brands that have been displayed at the show include Premier House Wears, Wham, Damat, Loft, Yankee Candle, Bagno Design, Dilhan and many more. Expect Large International Pavilions from India, Turkey and China displaying low, mid, and high point interior, gift and fashion items. Again, holding during the event is the West African retail and design conference which provides a platform for sharing knowledge and best practices within the industry. These seminars have been devised to help Nigerian retailers, interior designers and professional buyers increase revenue, upskill their teams and promote their brands.
Attendees at the event will access up to 40 per cent discount in show only discounts, have opportunity to view new products and A/W2018 collection launches, save money on expensive international flight costs, visa fees and meet local and international suppliers in Lagos that could increase profit margins and give an edge over your competitor.