Nigerian SMEs
QShop is a Nigerian online platform that provides “businesses [with] a quick and easy way to build e-commerce websites,” according to How we made it in Africa. The QShop platform specifically targets markets in Nigeria and Africa, focusing on small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs). QShop helps Nigerian SMEs to transition to e-commerce so that businesses can expand their markets and see increased growth.

Poverty in Nigeria and the Role of SMEs

A new World Bank report, “A Better Future for All Nigerians: Nigeria Poverty Assessment 2022,” reveals that four out of 10 people in Nigeria live below the national poverty line. In the last quarter of 2020, the unemployment rate in Nigeria stood at 33%.

However, a 2010 report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) says Nigeria’s SME sector has the potential to “absorb up to 80[%] of jobs, improve per capita income, increase value addition to raw materials supply, improve export earnings, enhance capacity utilization in key industries and unlock economic expansion and GDP growth.”

The Nigerian SME sector plays a crucial role in attenuating poverty. PricewaterhouseCoopers says SMEs are “the backbone of major developed economies.” In the five years preceding 2010, SMEs in Nigeria contributed 48% to the country’s GDP. Furthermore, SMEs accounted for 96% of businesses in Nigeria and 84% of employment. The QShop platform aims to support SMEs in Nigeria, encouraging even further growth.

How QShop Helps Nigerian SMEs

E-commerce has become more popular in recent years and a variety of e-commerce website builders are available for companies of all sizes, including Shopify, Square and Ecwid. Once the COVID-19 pandemic hit, business closures and restrictions on operations pushed business owners to look for online solutions, leading to a higher demand for e-commerce-as-a-service solutions.

Tarebi Alebiosu, the founder of QShop, told Vanguard that amid the pandemic, technology played a vital role in the survival of small businesses. She established QShop with the specific intent of helping SMEs run their businesses online.

Head of technology at QShop, Harrison Hammond, said to Vanguard: “At QShop, we want to help customers grow from zero to a hundred with technology. We serve as the middle-man to bring all the tools — websites, inventory, payment channels and logistics — to one place.”

QShop helps Nigerian SMEs by being more affordable than many other e-commerce sites and pricing its paid subscriptions in nairas and not dollars. “Right now, nobody wants to incur costs linked to the dollar as our currency is experiencing serious devaluation,” Alebiosu said to How we made it in Africa.

QShop offers business owners a free and paid subscription. Businesses can opt for the free subscription where the company “takes 4% off every transaction, but there is no monthly fee.” About 5% of QShop clients are utilizing the paid subscription, as of November 2022, while the others utilize the free subscription. “We make money only if our clients are selling,” says Alebiosu to How we made it in Africa. The free tier ensures that businesses do not lose money if they initially struggle to sell.

The Future

So far, merchants have shown a significant amount of interest in QShop since its introduction. As of May 2022, the company has more than 10,000 SMEs registered and has processed more than $500,000 USD in seller sales. With the help of partnerships with Stripe, Flutterwave, Paystack and Providus Bank, merchants can receive funds in any currency.

The COVID-19 outbreak has negatively impacted Nigeria’s economy. However, this new platform has the potential to help small and medium enterprises thrive in an increasingly digital world. The positive impacts of QShop may reignite economic growth and reduce poverty among Nigerians.

– Caterina Rossi
Photo: Flickr

Poverty eradication in ItalyMany programs are working toward innovations in poverty eradication in Italy. These programs include an income program instated by the government, a fuel poverty program partnership between two companies and charities that provide assistance to the needy. Here are four facts about innovations in poverty eradication in Italy:

4 Facts About Innovations in Poverty Eradication in Italy

  1. Italy’s welfare program: In 2019, Italy introduced a €7 billion income welfare program to help reduce poverty. As of 2018, 5.1 million people in Italy lived in poverty. This program targets those people, as well as Italian citizens, EU citizens and legal residents living in Italy for 10 years or more. Households whose annual income is equal to or below €9,360 are eligible. Those eligible receive €780 a month, which can help pay for essentials such as grocery, rent and utilities. In the program, individuals who are able-bodied are also required to sign up for job placement and training programs. Employers who hire individuals taking part in the program receive financial incentives.
  2. Reducing fuel poverty: Fuel poverty is present in Italy, but so are programs to help tackle it. Fuel poverty is defined by the European Energy Poverty Observatory as “the inability to keep the home adequately warm at an affordable cost.” This affects more than 3.9 million Italians per year. A U.K.-based company called PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) partnered with an international organization, Ashoka, to reduce low-income families living in fuel poverty in Italy. The project relies on social innovators and entrepreneurs to find novel methods of tackling fuel poverty and reducing it in Italy.
  3. Food stamps: Italian programs for food assistance are giving out free meals and food stamps. Particularly during the COVID-19 crisis, many Italians are facing unemployment, and about one million are in need of food assistance. Programs such as the Ronda della Solidarieta charity, which offers free dinners twice a week in Rome to those in need, and the Nona Roma association, which drops off boxes filled with food necessities to low-income Roman families, are helping reduce the amount of people who go hungry. In 2020, the prime minister of Italy, Giuseppe Conte, delegated €400 million for food stamps.
  4. Charities: Charities for the homeless and low-income are attempting to provide resources such as food and health items to those in need. The COVID-19 crisis can be especially difficult for homeless Italians, as closed restaurants and bars provide less access for them to wash their hands. Similarly, it can be difficult to obtain food while social distancing, and homeless people are sometimes stopped by the police for not abiding by quarantine laws. The Community for St. Egidio is a charity that keeps their soup kitchen open, and they distribute 2,500 meals per week. They are also seeking donations for face masks, hand sanitizers and food. 

There is still a long way to go in eradicating poverty in Italy, and COVID-19 may worsen the plight of low-income families in Italy. However, it is still important to note these programs as they help families in need and create innovations in poverty eradication in Italy.

– Ayesha Asad
Photo: Unsplash