Entrepreneurship

SME profitability and expansion rely heavily on partnerships and collaborations says Entrepreneurs

SME profitability and expansion rely heavily on partnerships and collaborations

Nigerian female entrepreneurs in the Wellness Industry emphasize that the success of business owners, particularly women, lies in partnerships and collaboration. 

During a panel session at the United Bank for Africa’s event on Thursday, March 7, 2024- commemorating International Women’s Day, themed “Her Story,” these entrepreneurs discussed challenges and solutions to business growth and expansion in the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) sector. 

What they said 

Atilola Moronfolu, Founder of hair care clinic- African Naturalista, highlighted how partnerships across various industries shaped her business model and overall service delivery in Nigeria’s complex market. 

  • “At African Naturalista, everything is built on partnerships and collaborations with doctors, surgeons, hairstylists, dermatologists. Our business model centres on education and hair care literacy to address real-time problems” explained Moronfolu.  

She cited instances of collaborating with hair salons to address diverse hair care problems such as alopecia. She stressed the importance of working with distributors and vendors to ensure a well-rounded service base and experience. 

  • “In my opinion, we don’t have competitors but industry colleagues. Collaborating with various stakeholders enhances our service offerings,” Moronfolu added. 
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Aside from partnerships, Moronfolu emphasized the need for a robust business structure, recalling her humble beginnings with an initial investment of N3,000. She highlighted the significance of proper customer service and effective marketing strategies in business development. 

Onyeka Michael Ugwu, CEO/Founder of Hello Perfect, a beauty care clinic, delved into the impact of partnerships when assembling a competent team to collaborate and drive the company’s mission. 

  • When changing the game in business, it boils down to customer service and a well-performing team. Investing in a structured system where team members are well taken care of translates to positive client interactions,” said Ugwu. 
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Chioma Ikokwu, CEO and Co-founder of the hair care brand Good Hair reflected on the uncertainties in business and the need to adapt, especially during challenging times like the COVID-19 lockdown. 

  • “COVID was a difficult time; I was worried about sales. Regardless, I decided to push and promote content, incorporating challenges and unique offerings. Despite the challenges, one significant area where partnerships proved crucial was relocating the company onsite,” Ikokwu shared. 

She recounted the financial strain of moving and how co-founder Kika helped overcome the hurdles. “There is strength in partnerships. Women should not shy away from collaboration due to competition. My 15-year partnership has been the best decision of my life.” 

  • “Good Hair started in London before moving to a small space in Lekki and later expanding. When facing difficulties, seeking help and sharing responsibilities with my co-founder made all the difference. We pulled together our savings to complete the job, and everything worked out,” Ikokwu explained. 
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According to her, this experience reinforced belief in the power of partnerships, emphasizing that women should prioritize collaboration over competition.

She encouraged entrepreneurs to recognize the strength derived from working together, stating, “There is strength in partnerships. Women don’t partner because we are always trying to compete with each other.” 

Ikokwu’s narrative echoed the sentiments of other female entrepreneurs at the event, reinforcing the notion that partnerships, alongside a well-structured business model and effective customer service, are indispensable for navigating the complexities of the business landscape. 

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