The entrepreneurial spirit of Nigerians is undeniable and can be seen in the palpable energy and drive towards the progress and growth of several startups/Small and Medium Enterprises. It is epitomized in the ‘hustle’ in every Nigerian. The story of Nigerians is one of Entrepreneurship and a people’s sheer drive and energy to do more to uplift themselves, it is the no-die resilient spirit. The Hack, 9mobile platform speaks to this.
Entrepreneurship is derived from the French word entreprendre, and it means to ‘undertake an enterprise’, where enterprise means, ‘a project that is especially difficult, complicated, or risky. Entrepreneurship involves risk-taking and it could be a fundamental stumbling block for an entrepreneur. It is not for the fainthearted and those brave enough are the first to identify the possibilities and enjoy the fruits of their enterprise.
According to a World Bank Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) report, SMEs account for the majority of businesses worldwide and are important contributors to job creation and global economic development. Furthermore, they represent approximately 90% of businesses and more than 50% of employment worldwide, with formal SMEs contributing up to 40% of the GDP in emerging economies. Bringing it home, a BusinessDay report notes that Nigeria is home to over 36.9 million MSMEs, comprising 96.7% of all businesses. The report further reveals that 67% of these businesses are youth-owned. Interestingly, MSMEs contribute more than 45% to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), with 98.8% of them in the micro cadre. They account for nearly 90% of jobs in the country.
Despite SMEs being the largest employer of labour in Nigeria, about 80 percent of them fail before their fifth anniversary due to harsh economic environments, they sadly lack access to basic services that will help their businesses grow; they grapple with management skills, financial access, mentorship, infrastructure, and regulatory hurdles. Perhaps, a more critical factor militating against the growth of SMEs in Nigeria is the lack of technical know-how on the part of entrepreneurs and small business owners.
Considering the indispensable role of SMEs in stimulating the economy, we launched an Enterprise Business Growth Series, The Hack to empower entrepreneurs by giving them the knowledge, technology, and access to the market required to help them grow as part of our commitment to the youth and their growing businesses. The Hack is a free business initiative by 9mobile to help SMEs understand the complexities that exist within that sector of the economy, identify the landmines that exist therein, and provide practical solutions, to help them scale their business. The term, ‘Hack,’ would suggest a strategy or technique for managing one’s time or activities more efficiently, and this is at the heart of 9mobile’s decision to come up with the initiative. Having identified the knowledge gaps that have served as a clog in the wheels of most SMEs, The Hack initiative was birthed to upscale and improve the capacity of entrepreneurs and small business owners.
From Lagos to Abuja, Port-Harcourt, Enugu to Kano, Ilorin to Jos, The Hack platform, which was launched in 2022, has continued to transverse the country, providing opportunities for SMEs to network, share and gain insight on their “hustle” in an atmosphere filled with business experts willing to offer mentorship. We provide them with advice on leveraging Information and Communications Technology because of the tremendous growth and expansion opportunities it offers growing businesses. We also teach them business management, inventory management, and tracking. In addition to this, we have continued to launch specialized products and services that meet the needs of the SMEs like our ‘Enterprise Cloud Solution’ and ‘Enterprise ComboPak. But beyond the training, we have enriched The Hack with a Pitchathon and Exhibition Sessions, the former designed to empower the participants by showing them how to make elevator pitches. We are training them to take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves which can be anywhere and anytime. Knowing how to craft a succinct and successful elevator pitch will help them attract people who are interested in what they have to offer and is often the key to making connections with interested investors. While the exhibition serves as an opportunity for them to showcase their business and we think it vital that if we are talking about how to run a business, we must provide a practical example through the exhibition”.
Through this platform, 9mobile has reiterated its commitment to entrepreneurs, start-ups, and MSMEs as subsets of its target universe, with eyes firmly on the ball of economic development. With this lofty initiative, many individuals, both young and old, have been able to draw from the wealth of experience that 9mobile has showcased at different locations of The Hack events and improve their businesses.
So far,over 23.7 million people have been reached online, 20,000knowledge participants have been impacted, 382 entrepreneurs have exhibited and more than N10 million in Grants.