Exploring the Entrepreneurial Spirit of Aba: A Guide to Starting a Business in the City
The city of Aba in Nigeria is known for its entrepreneurial spirit and vibrant manufacturing sector. With a population of over one million people, Aba provides a fertile ground for entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses.
The success of entrepreneurs in Aba has been noised abroad. And this is being championed by Made-in-Aba products which has today become a household name in several countries of the world. However, it is not everyone that has gone to start a business in Aba that has succeeded. In fact, Aba has equally become the valley of shadow of death for some intending entrepreneurs.
So in this guide, we will explore the entrepreneurial spirit of Aba and provide a practical guide to starting a business in the city. So if you are considering starting a business in Aba, you will be at an advantage if you follow the actionable points below.
Entrepreneurship in Aba
Entrepreneurship is deeply ingrained in the culture of Aba. The city is known for its “Made-in-Aba” brand, which has gained international recognition for its quality and affordability. According to a report by the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, Aba is the largest shoe manufacturing hub in West Africa, with over 50,000 shoemakers and an estimated annual revenue of over $1 billion. Another report also has it that traders from Aba export a whopping 1 million pairs of shoes every week to other African countries.
The entrepreneurial spirit of Aba is however not limited to shoe manufacturing. The city is also home to entrepreneurs in the fashion, food, and technology industries. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the informal sector in Aba employs over 80% of the city’s population.
Starting a Business in Aba
The entrepreneurial spirit of Aba is the first step and first quality required for you to succeed in any business in Aba. But starting a business in Aba also requires careful planning and execution. Here are therefore some important steps to guide you in the process:
Step 1: Conduct Market Research
If you consider yourself to have the entrepreneurial spirit of Aba and wants to venture into any business in Aba, it is important to conduct market research to identify the needs of your target market. You can use surveys, focus groups, and online research to gather information about your potential customers and competitors.
Step 2: Develop a Business Plan
A business plan is a roadmap that outlines your business goals, target market, marketing strategy, financial projections, and operational plan. It is the business plan that tell you what to do, when to do it, how to do it and the expected result of doing it. A well-written business plan will help you secure funding from investors and lenders.
Having a business plan will also help you to think through some possible challenges and how to handle them. So I will advise that you don’t start until you have a business plan down.
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Step 3: Register Your Business
The Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) is the government agency responsible for the registration of businesses in Nigeria. You can register your business as a sole proprietorship, partnership, or limited liability company (LLC). Unfortunately, many businesses in Aba care less about this. So it invariably means you will have an advantage of most of your competitors.
Some advantages of registering your business with CAC:
- It gives credibility to your business
- You cannot open a corporate bank account without first registering with CAC
- You need CAC registration to get Tax Identification Number
- It gives you access to government grants and loans
- Without a registered company with CAC you can’t bid for certain contracts
Step 4: Secure Funding
Funding is essential for the growth and expansion of any business. Whereas we have seen most businesses in Aba bootstrap, yet there remains the option of sourcing funding from other sources. And you can secure funding from investors, lenders, or government programs such as the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Entrepreneurship Development Centers (EDCs).
In fact, the CBN’s loan scheme through EDCs is one I highly recommend.
Step 5: Set Up Structure
Now that you have secured funding you need to set up a structure for your business. The structure will involve both physical and operational system.
Step 6: Hire Staff
The success of your business depends on the quality of your staff. Hire employees with the necessary skills and experience to help you achieve your business goals.
Challenges of Starting a Business in Aba
Starting a business in Aba is not without its challenges though. And here are some of the common challenges that entrepreneurs face:
1. Poor Infrastructure
Aba has a reputation for poor infrastructure, including bad roads, inadequate electricity, and poor waste management. These challenges can make it difficult for businesses to operate effectively.
2. Limited Access to Funding
Access to funding is a major challenge for entrepreneurs in Aba. The informal nature of the city’s economy makes it difficult for entrepreneurs to access traditional financing options.
3. Limited Access to Markets
Although Aba has a large population, the city’s economy is largely informal, making it difficult for entrepreneurs to access formal markets.
Wrapping it Up on The Entrepreneurial Spirit of Aba
Despite the challenges, the entrepreneurial spirit of Aba is alive and well. The city provides a fertile ground for entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses. With careful planning, execution, and support, entrepreneurs can overcome the challenges and build successful businesses in Aba.
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