Contrary to the common belief by several entrepreneurs that money is the first requirement to building a successful business, Hussaina Bashir Isyaku, a Social Entrepreneur and Development Practitioner based in Kaduna, is of the view that a positive mindset and great sustainable strategy is the foundation of a successful business.
Hussaina has been into entrepreneurship for over two decades and through her dedication to making a difference, she founded the Even Development Projects where she mentors women and youth on how to acquire skills for sustenance.
For Hussaina, Nigeria and Africa at large have done so much in solving basic life problems in rural areas in terms of infrastructural development, financial support, and digital literacy targeted at farmers, traders, women, and youth to encourage them to sell their products or start an agricultural business.
She stated that while these have improved some lives and yielded some success stories, it is still not enough to produce the likes of large farming conglomerates in other countries despite Nigeria having a population of over 200 million. “We are vested in policies, strategies, and approaches that will take the bulk of the number in rural areas where food is produced to sustain the system,” Hussaina said.
She said with insecurity creating setbacks in recent years, there is a need to review some of the policies and approaches governing the development of farming before reviewing encumbrances facing the sector to bring about stabilisation to incorporate community experiences and build stronger responses to any shock that might arise along the line.
She said the approach used by Alibaba to digitise rural areas is inspiring as it used a “people-centric approach that is focused on building and enabling people to build the country’s infrastructure that we all see and admire today. Alibaba’s Rural Development Business Model incorporated public welfare into commercial sustainability, which is crucial in solving social problems and improving lives.”
Going forward, she said, “My experience with local people has humbled me in the ways that they improvise and solve their problems more than my fancy degrees have.
We can tweak some of these lessons from Alibaba and make it work for our dear country Nigeria by understanding the needs of farmers and communities through the use of problem-solving techniques; establishing one state; one product by focusing on developing a specific industry in each local government and provide a rural finance support system that includes financial literacy, cooperative building and financial thrift contribution support that will average on what’s already on the ground.
“We can also standardise jobs in rural areas, partner with research institutions to provide technologies that can extend the shelf life of certain commodities, introduce data-driven agricultural best practices to farmers to maximise quality and productivity, establish agro-processing hubs that will involve indigenous youths as managers and villagers as staff to accelerate agricultural processing without having to own any of the machines a small business owner and provide warehousing and cold rooms that are powered in rural areas to minimise food waste.”
She said it is necessary to cultivate a more seamless public-private partnership by minimising bureaucracy and improving ease of doing business between government agencies, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, and nonprofit organisations among others to ensure effective implementation of strategies to achieve sustainable development.