In Oṣogbo, a Radio Programme is Helping Petty Traders Survive

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Taofeeq Nafisat at her stall in Alekuwodo in Osogbo. Photo source: Abdulgafar Adebayo/The SolutionsPaper
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Written by: Rasheed Adebiyi and Abdulgafar Adebayo

Edited by: Violet Ikong

Oṣogbo, Osun: Dayo Oderinu grew up in Ejigbo, a semi urban area in Osun state, Southwestern Nigeria and witnessed first hand, the financial struggles and numerous challenges that families of friends and neighbours who were dependent on petty trade faced.

He realised that their survival depended solely on the amount of wares which these petty traders (mostly women) could sell in a day.

Petty trading is a small scale and mostly informal economic activity that involves buying and selling of goods and services such as agricultural and consumer goods in smaller
quantities.

Generally, petty trading and other micro businesses are usually associated with little capital outlay, minimal fixed assets, highly localised in the area of operation and often with unsophisticated management structure.

Additional research shows that petty traders in Nigeria especially the female traders lack access to finance and management competencies.

And so when Odeniru started working at Rave FM in Oṣogbo, the Osun state capital as a broadcast journalist, he decided to deploy the radio to reach petty traders and low-income businesses who do not have formal education, equipping them with financial and management knowledge alongside monetary interventions.

In Nigeria, radio is the dominant news platform, with over 77 percent overall and more than seven in ten across all major demographic groups saying they listen to the radio for news at least weekly. In  Southwestern Nigeria excluding Lagos state, more than 87 percent of households have access to a radio according to a 2021 survey by the South-West Media Gauge (SMG).

In 2016, Odeniru launched the Karakata programme to reach petty traders with financial literacy and empowerment for their low income business. 

Karakata, which means buying and selling in Yoruba, a language spoken by the Yoruba tribe of Southwestern Nigeria is a radio programme that airs every Wednesday for 30 minutes on Rave FM Oṣogbo and allows listeners to call in and pitch to win an unconditional grant of N5000 ($23.74) to support their petty trade. 

Karakata was originally conceptualised as a entrepreneurship programme focused on educating local petty traders in Oṣogbo with financial and management knowledge needed for them to grow their businesses.

Oderinu who anchors the radio programme told The SolutionsPaper that the seed funding component was a result of the feedback received from listeners. 

Karakata programme began in 2016 as a 30-minutes entrepreneurship programme where I educate the audience on business ideas generation, business management, accounting principles, and financial literacy Oderinu, 33, said.

After a while, people began to call in to ask how they could get money to implement these ideas. This led to the introduction of the empowerment aspect of the programme in November 2017.

For an average petty trader, the battle for survival is still won on the ground of how much and how quickly they can sell per day. For instance, all the wares a pepper or fruit seller displays in the market on a daily basis is often not up to ten thousand naira. These goods are perishable and could easily get spoiled if they don’t finish selling them on time.

Oderinu said he initially funded these intervention grants with personal funds and donations from friends but had to employ an offline crowdfunding system in order to keep the initiative sustainable. 

This involves reaching out to people who want to celebrate birthdays and other worthy events to donate to the programme for disbursement to the traders.

How does Karakata work?

Aired in Yoruba, the anchor usually asks listeners to call in and pitch how an intervention grant of N5,000 can assist their existing businesses. The aim is to determine actual low-income business owners and petty traders who need financial support.

Depending on the available funds, up to five persons or less get individual grants of N5,000 on each segment of the Karakata programme. 

In deciding whether a caller is a worthy beneficiary, Oderinu say he often relies on his intuition and other basic standards. 

If a listener owns a big business, they are not eligible to win the money. If they also have a capital base that is above N20,000 and can afford to buy a bag of rice, for instance, they also stand unqualified for empowermenthe stated.

Taofeeq Nafisat, a 28-year-old mother of two who sells raw potatoes and fruits along the road at the popular Alekuwodo market in Oṣogbo told The SolutionsPaper that the Karakata programme has increased both her capital base and profit margins. 

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Taofeeq Nafisat at her stall in Alekuwodo in Osogbo.
Photo source: Abdulgafar Adebayo/The SolutionsPaper

According to Nafisat, before she got the N5,000 funding from the Karakata programme in June 2022, she was trading with only N10,000. 

I kept the N5,000 aside and bought bananas worth N3,000, mangoes and other fruits N2,000. I bought only fruits so I can track the profit as we were taught on the programme. This N5000 generated N2,800 as profit and just last week when I went to the market, I was able to go with N20,000.

The story is the same for 45-year-old Asumo Walimot, who started selling raw potatoes about three months ago as a result of the economic hardship that drove her provision business to ruins.

The N5,000 I got from Karakata wasn’t enough to buy a sack of potatoes as the small sack costs N8,000 while the big sack costs N11,000. I added money to it and bought a big sack. I make a profit of N14,500 to N15,000 on each bag, Walimot told The SolutionsPaper.

Since 2017 when the seed funding segment of the programme was introduced, it has benefitted about 1,250 small business owners in the state. About 20 of the beneficiaries who judiciously utilised the funds given to them have also been followed up for another round of business support. 

This seed funding of N5,000 has not only helped revive businesses with a low capital base but has also kept the business owners in businessOderinu noted.

The Clog in the wheel

Despite the visible advantages of the Karakata initiative, there are a number of problems with this kind of arrangement. Karakata suffers from the inability to effectively follow up on its beneficiaries. and really measure the impact of the programme.

Due to the logistics involved, the follow-up rate is very low. We’ve only followed up on about 20 people so far Oderinu said.

The much follow up he has been able to carry out has been for beneficiaries within the state capital leaving out most of those who benefit from outside Oṣogbo. Oderinu also noted his inability to check those who want to benefit fraudulently from the programme by calling in with multiple numbers and giving false profiles.

This challenge plagues the vision of the programme and Oderinu fears it may turn the initiative to a jackpot for some fraudulent people encouraging indolence instead of industry. 

The sustainability of the scheme is also a major concern. Funds are often not available to cater to demands from the people. Oderinu admits that there are times when they run dry of sponsors for a long period.

Yet, Oderinu believes there are lessons for government and well-meaning individuals who may want to embark on a similar journey of intervention. According to him, a framework that would properly check individuals from having multiple access and setting up a strict follow-up mechanism would ensure judicious use of funds given.  

Oderinu plans to morph Karakata into a programme to be run by a non-profit organisation in memory of his late father.

But until that plan becomes a reality, he is stuck with using his personal funds and donations from other well meaning Nigerians to keep the impact of Karakata going. 

This story has been made possible by Nigeria Health Watch, with support from the Solutions Journalism Network, New York.

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The SolutionsPaper is a a multimedia outlet leveraging solutions and constructive journalism to spur civic action and participation in development issues across Africa.

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