Mrs. Adeife Simiat from Osun state has successfully diversified her business to include selling cow skin (ponmo) and fish, alongside her expertise in makeup and gele styling. 

This diversification has been crucial for her growth. “I have achieved a lot of things from this cow skin (ponmo) business,” Mrs. Adeife told the Harbinger, showing how adapting to market demands has been key to her success. 

Despite market fluctuations, she remains resilient as ponmo selling has helped her financially. “The market has spoiled, but we’re still managing to be in the business,” she explains, reflecting their determination and adaptability.

Challenges Faced by Nigeria’s Perishable Goods Businesses

Small-scale businesses in Nigeria, especially those involved in perishable goods, confront a multitude of challenges that hinder their growth and sustainability. 

Issues such as inadequate infrastructure and unreliable electricity supply significantly jeopardize the preservation and quality of goods. Moreover, limited access to capital constrains their ability to expand and innovate, while soaring transportation costs, exacerbated by infrastructure deficiencies, further inflate operational expenses.

The pervasive impact of inflation exacerbates these challenges, particularly evident in the steep rise of prices for essential commodities like fish and ponmo. 

Data from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) underscores inflation as an ongoing concern, exerting profound effects on both consumers and enterprises. 

According to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), a mere fraction of SMEs manage to maintain operations beyond five years, highlighting the urgent necessity for comprehensive policy support and strategic interventions.

Ponmo, or cow skin, holds a cherished place in Nigerian cuisine, serving as both a staple and a delicacy. 

For many small-scale traders, especially women like Simiat, the ponmo business is a lifeline, supporting families and funding education. 

Despite rising prices, which have dramatically increased costs, the demand for ponmo remains strong due to its affordability and cultural significance.

The business involves sourcing, processing, and selling, with each step offering employment opportunities. However, challenges such as inflation and transportation costs threaten profitability. Additionally, potential government regulations aimed at boosting the leather industry could impact ponmo availability, posing further risks to traders who depend on this business for their livelihood.

Overcoming Financial Hurdles

Moreover, Balikis Odewumi has been diligently selling cow skin (ponmo) to support her family. 

Her dedication to this business has led to remarkable achievements, such as funding her children’s university education. “Through this business, I’ve sent my children to university,” she shares, highlighting the transformative impact of her efforts. 

This accomplishment explained not only her commitment to her family’s future but also the significant role her enterprise plays in their lives. Balikis’s story exemplifies resilience and determination, as she navigates the challenges of the market to provide better opportunities for her loved ones.

However, rising costs have created challenges for Mrs. Bamidele, with ponmo prices increasing dramatically from ₦13,000 to ₦50,000. “It’s leading to debt as they’re buying it from the farm,” she adds, emphasizing the financial hurdles they face.

These women continue to forge ahead, driven by a commitment to their families and communities, and a hope for a brighter, more stable economic future. 

Economist Advocates for Supportive Measures for Nigerian Small Businesses

Mrs. Yewande Adetokunbo, a seasoned economist and business consultant, offers valuable insights into the challenges faced by small-scale businesses in Nigeria.

With her extensive background in supporting local entrepreneurs, Mrs. Adetokunbo emphasizes the need for strategic government intervention to alleviate the burdens on perishable goods traders. 

“Addressing infrastructure issues and providing access to affordable capital are crucial for sustaining these vital businesses,” she explains. Her expertise in economic development and small business growth makes her an authoritative voice on the subject.

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