Nigerian entrepreneurs have been advised to take advantage of the endless opportunities that abound in the country’s food sector by investing in nutrition and collaborating with one another towards scaling up.
The call was made during a masterclass session by The Scaling up Nutrition Business Network (SBN), a global movement of professionals focused on ending malnutrition through meaningful investments.
The masterclass, which was organised in partnership with Sahel Capital Partners and Advisory (an agribusiness consulting group), had the working theme “Unlocking Investment Opportunities for Improved Nutrition”. It was intended to decry the conventional funding mechanisms currently available for entrepreneurs, and particularly the stiffing effects commercial lending often has on small businesses; precisely those in the food/nutrition sector.
Some of the many challenges facing Small and Medium Enterprises in Nigeria were also discussed during the masterclass, including funding, entrepreneurship training, access to markets, information/networks, etc. The occasion was also used to expose participants to some of the opportunities available to them in the areas of grants and technical support.
Speakers at the masterclass included SBN’s Nigeria Coordinator, Uduak Igbeka and Sahel Capital’s Co-Founder Ndidi Nwuneli, both of whom urged entrepreneurs to embrace opportunities and be open-minded/receptive to new ideas.
Malnutrition is a problem in Nigeria
SBN’s message to Nigerian entrepreneurs has become necessary, especially now that Nigeria’s malnutrition problem seems to be getting out of hands. A 2017 UNICEF report has it that 2.5 million Nigerians up north are suffering acute malnutrition. Asides those, other Nigerians in conflict-free zones are equally affected. Unfortunately, many Nigerians equally use their money to buy unhealthy meals due to the unavailability of healthy options. The proliferation of fast foods across the country’s major cities is silently encouraging obesity and endangering the lives of many. It is, therefore, necessary for more SMEs to consider business ideas that will offer healthier food alternatives to Nigerians.
Already, there seems to be a progress. In Lagos State, for example, more healthy food outlets are springing up, offering services from fresh salads of assorted kinds to juices. These businesses are booming and competing with the fast food restaurants which once upon a time dominated the food space.