E-commerce is no longer just for flashy start-ups or big companies with even bigger budgets – it is also becoming a valuable channel to market for Small & Medium Businesses. From plumbers to playschools and from artisan food stores to gardening services, all sorts of small businesses can benefit from allowing their customers to shop and pay online. E-commerce expert, Prince Olaniyi Karonwi mirrored the challenges in eCommerce in Nigeria and how Nigerians can tap into the industry and earn a decent living.
He also talked about the role of government in improving the sector. Read excepts
Can you give us a brief of your background?
Well, that’s a very funny question but it’s important, though many people do not really believe it, I have sat with a lot of people I made them realize that I come from a very humble background. I have my common entrance from Primary school to Iganmode Grammar school in 1985.
That was the year things took another slide in my life. But I never lost focus in the future I pictured back then in my heart.
I am passionate about so many things. Part of them is the acquisition of IT skills even though I was trained primarily as a Mercedes Benz Specialist somewhere outside the shores of Africa. I am an avid reader of online materials and I am a fast learner. So after acquiring these skills, I chose to do something legitimate with those skills to make an impact on my immediate and future generations
The existing generation and the generation after us, so that is what informed my decision to want to establish an e-commerce platform back in 2009 under the grossbuy.com that we started with. So, the passion has never died, I have always spent time on my laptop learning, reading and having a lot of investigation on materials. So, here we are today, even though education is key, I think the4 basic need of education is for you to communicate and defend what you believe in. that is what got us to where we are today.
How can rate the economy of Benin Republic and that of Nigeria in industrial and digital development?
Benin Republic as a whole is backward in technology. Benin republic is not a place you can establish something like this. Even in the banking sector, you cannot transfer money from one bank to the other from your phone. It’s only in the bank.
That’s is how poor it is in Benin Republic and still is. So, we couldn’t have started this kind of business in Benin Republic. There was no regret because we were running club over there. Even while we were in Benin Republic, our businesses here were moving and we are even using some of the proceeds to lubricate the efficiency of our investments in Benin Republic.
For me, I thought if we had returned some 3 or 4 years before, we should have been somewhere further, but we are thankful that we are here now, and for the past three months that we have started our eCommerce platform, we are hopeful and we see a better republic.
How do you intend to manage Jonlizmarket.com if eventually you become the only surviving e-commerce?
I think growth, they say is constant just as change. We will just have to continue to grow, we are indeginous, we do have anywhere to go, if you check the background of those companies, you will notice they are foreigners. And definitely, soldier go, soldier come, but barrack remains, you know.
We don’t have any white guy in our team and we hope not to have. Nigerians are super talented. As the quest is increasing, we will flow with the tide. But for now, we are comfortable with the trend.
We have a massive bandwidth to accommodate traffic. The site is strong enough to accommodate whatever is coming in. because there are some forces that are willing to bring you down because you don’t belong to some caucus. I don’t believe in that philosophy. I believe in making things happen in your own way.
The Nigerian government, do you think they have a role to play in the eCommerce sector?
Yes. If the federal government can look into the e-commerce sector and invest. It will go a long way in alleviating poverty and creating entrepreneurs. I was in some discussion with one of the top ten Nigerian fashion designers in my office some time ago.
There is this challenge they face in the industry which is patronizing indigenous products. Would you believe a fashion designer will make clothes, ship it abroad and those abroad will repackage it and send it back to Nigerians who will feel he’s buying international products? That’s how deep we have sunk.
There are unsung brilliant minds that we need to discover and project, so that Nigerians and develop and survive here in Nigeria economically. Some of us came back because we believe in the e-commerce platform. Of���|�