Nigeria is a dynamic country where the population keeps growing. It’s a country that has definitely to be watched! Especially for entrepreneurs because you might want to set-up there very soon. Hopefully, here comes our Beeleever Deepankar, founder at VConnect. He has the best tips to do business in Nigeria!
First, tell us what is VConnect please?
VConnect is a network of local businesses and consumers. What we do is help businesses reach and connect with customers.
Back in 2011 when we started VConnect, very few Nigerian small businesses were searchable online.
Many of these small businesses folded because they couldn’t connect with a big enough customer base. It was that gap that we sought to fill. Give small businesses visibility in the emerging digital space. And we’ve done a good job. More than 1.2 million small businesses are now registered on VConnect with up to 2 million monthly visitors.
Some would call us a directory. But we are more than that. What we do is help businesses and customers have robust conversations. That’s what makes the platform so useful. People don’t just find contact details of businesses, they find a complete set of information – in the form of ratings and reviews – that help them know whether to transact with a business or not. On their part, businesses see and reply real-time to user feedback.
We have continued to grow in response to the needs of the market. A few months ago, we launched a new feature called Business Lists that helps customers create lists of businesses that fulfill certain needs or around a certain theme. It’s like a playlist for businesses. We’ve seen incredibly creative uses of this tool. We know too that the creative possibilities of this tool are endless.
How do you see your future?
What we have baked into our DNA here is consistent innovation and self-disruption. And that will continue with us in the future. In the next five years, we will be in at least two more countries. Our presence is majorly in Nigeria as at now. Plans are in advanced stages for our move into Ghana which is only a few miles west of Nigeria.
Aside from the expansion, helping businesses is a key part of our operations. So over the next few years, we will be getting more creative with how we help local businesses become more visible online, and how they build an authoritative brand.
And the main questions for all entrepreneurs: how is it to do business in Nigeria? How is the business ecosystem in Nigeria?
Nigeria is a hard place to do business, but that’s why it’s also fun. What this has done for our team is to drive us to think more creatively about solving problems. We thought up creative ways to cut our burn rate since Naira (the local currency) started weakening drastically against the Dollars, for instance.
And you are right. Nigeria is also a dynamic place to do business. The people have peculiar needs that if a business isn’t ready to keep experimenting and bracing for possible failure, such business may lose out on a golden business opportunity.
Would you recommend Nigeria for those who would like to develop there?
Nigeria is a great place to set up. Never mind the initial complexity of setting up, once you get all your ducks to line up, you can get an incredible return on your investment. There are simply so many problems here that need creative solutions. And that presents the perfect opportunity for any entrepreneur.
What are the key points to bear in mind when setting up in Nigeria?
If you plan to set up in Nigeria, be ready to understand the market. It’s a peculiar and astonishingly complex market. Bear in mind that, a model or solution that is a wild success in a western market might not work in the original form.