One of the sectors that have the potential to create massive employment for millions of unemployed youths with creative and innovative talents is agriculture.
Experts said that millions of jobs in the sector are found along the value chains of processing, packaging, shipping, marketing, cutting-edge technology and provision of services.
Mrs Ifeyinwa Jane Nwasokwu, a 39-year-old mother of 6, is one of those Nigerians working on value chain products and processing herbal tea.
Based in Bida, Niger State, Mrs Nwasokwu shared how she started and where she wants to be in the future despite challenges.
“I became interested in herbal teas when I decided to pursue a career in fitness. During my studies, I learned about the many ways herbs can aid weight loss. This sparked my interest in creating my own herbal tea products,” she said.
The entrepreneur sources her raw materials from different places working with suppliers in Abuja and Lagos, including direct order from the US and Korea, which she said gave her “a lot of flexibility and access to high-quality materials.”
Despite pursuing a career in fitness, which gave birth to the tea production, the health challenge she faced also turned into a business idea that provided solution to the problems others also face.
“At the same time, I was struggling with persistent skin issues, including acne and discoloration. I tried many different products and treatments but nothing seemed to work.
“I finally decided to take matters into my hands and create my own skincare line. I knew that my sensitive skin required products that were gentle and non-irritating. After extensive research and testing, I developed a line of products that addressed my specific skin concerns.
“I was amazed at how my skin improved after using my products. I realised that by understanding my unique needs, I could create something that really worked for me. This experience inspired me to share my knowledge and products with others,” Mrs Nwasokwu explained.
The businesswoman described her experience thus far as not entirely positive, but one she is still learning from, day to day and that is strongly based on her ambition for unrelenting success.
“It has been a crazy ride so far, but I love every minute of it. God has blessed me with the strength and determination to keep pushing forward. And although I am not where I want to be yet, I know I am making progress every day,” she told Daily Trust on Sunday.
Although her location, Bida, is a challenge she has to deal with in reaching her target audience in view of the recent government policy on subsidy, she is taking advantage of networking with others to expand her spread.
“Being outside major cities has made it hard to reach my target audience. But I have overcome that challenge by working with distributors who can deliver my products to consumers in major cities like Lagos and Abuja. My products are for young people who want to stay fit and burn fat.
“I have been very lucky to have a strong support network, especially from my family and friends. My husband and brother have been especially helpful in keeping my finances stable. I know that running a business can be tough, but I am grateful for the support I have received,” she said.
Mrs Nwasokwu said although she was aiming to scale up significantly in the future, and our goal is to produce thousands of packs, she currently produced about 500 packs a week.
Like many startup businesses in Nigeria, her business too hasn’t received any support from the government; rather, she relies on the social media, which has been a game-changer.
“I have been able to connect with people who are passionate about promoting my brand, and that has been incredibly valuable. It is amazing to see how much support I have received from the online community,” she said.
The business, according her, currently “provides jobs for a number of people. And I am proud to support them with fair wages and benefits. In addition to my direct employees, I also work with a network of distributors who earn a profit by selling my products. This model creates a win-win for everyone involved.”
She said the government or agencies could offer small business owners like them access to low-cost or free marketing tools and resources. These could include things like workshops, or even free ad credits for social media platforms. This could help us reach more people without breaking the bank.
She suggested that the federal, state or local governments may need to provide small startups with access to free or inexpensive marketing tools and services, including capacity building workshops that would enable them to be able to reach more people without going bankrupt with high interest loans.