The pandemic of 2020 brought about consequences that significantly impeded the freedoms people previously enjoyed. Everyday activities, once taken for granted, were now restricted in the interest of safety and to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
With even routine trips to the market halted, individuals began to seek alternative solutions to meet their needs during these challenging times.
In response to this predicament, Farida Faruk, a resident of Abuja, took proactive measures to address the situation. She decided to continue the activities of a group she had established back in 2018, where members bought and sold with each other.
Faruk, the pioneer of this initiative and a dedicated member of the group, reflects on this decision as one of the most impactful choices she has ever made.
"At first, I had reservations about forming such a group. Given the prevalence of fraudsters in Nigeria, I was concerned about the possibility of people being hesitant to join. The fear of falling victim to scams can deter people from participating in ventures like this," she remarked.
Faruk emphasised that the concept of the group wasn't solely a response to the pandemic but had been a long-standing idea conceived with the intention of bringing the market directly to people's doorsteps while simultaneously making a substantial positive impact on society.
“This group does not belong to any individual, that is why it has the name- ‘Abuja Fairly Used Items for Sale’. It doesn't also mean that new items are not sold. It's rather a name that welcomes the ordinary Nigerian to know that it is a place where he can shop for lots of things,” she explained to Prime Progress.
Looking back at the time the group started, she has seen tremendous changes that the group witnessed. She is also happy to see people connect and purchase different things.
“I follow people's comments and see how they enjoy the group. I also see how people come back to purchase more and more things that I am sure they are satisfied with,” she added.
Faruk also participates in the group by helping people advertise vacant houses for sale and rent in Abuja. Through this, she feels he has actively participated in making scouting for houses easier for people. She also purchases items she likes from the group.
“ I feel that going back and forth in the market is not always necessary. People can also leverage the availability of their phones, data and social media to explore and buy quality items while also using that time to do other things,” She believes the group is there as a midstream.
What happens in this group?
The group has grown to about 166.4k followers, with different individuals selling, advertising and buying different products and services.
Some of the things sold there include Cars, electronics, food items, kitchen utensils, houses, furniture, shoes, clothes, accessories, phones and lots more.
Grace Moses, a regular seller of food items like Yam, potatoes, onion, palm oil, dried cow skin, and many more, has expressed her gratitude towards being a part of this group.
“I didn't know I would get used to this type of marketing. But now, coming online to advertise my products is what I do on a regular basis, and I get customers who reach out from different places to buy. When I buy new products in a day, I get at least 10 messages from buyers, and almost 5 who are willing to buy immediately.”
Moses said that customers who are close by always come to pick up their products, and she also sends dispatch riders or waybills items to those who are far away,” She explained further.
Onah Richard, one of the major contributors to the community, expressed how he has also benefitted from the group.
“There is something called distress sale. It mostly occurs when people want to relocate hurriedly to another state or country or find themselves in dire situations where they need urgent money to attend to people. As such, they sell new or quality items at slashed or affordable prices. I have enjoyed that a lot of times”
Aside from dispatch sales, Onah has been a part of the group for a while and has made it his go-to-market when he wants to buy things in bulk.
“I buy egusi, crayfish, dried fish, snails and other items in bulk for my wife, who sells food. Most of the furniture and electronics I have in my house is mostly from the group,” he explained.
Richard was also hesitant to join the group in 2021 because he was not sure what he stood to gain and why he should have trusted such a group. But he soon took that risk, and he has now become a regular customer.
The surge in participants, particularly during the pandemic, necessitated the imposition of stringent warnings to ensure compliance with the community guidelines.
These guidelines were consistently reiterated to serve as a constant reminder of the group's purpose and the imperative to maintain its established standards.
Mariam Aysha, the group's second admin, expressed the challenges of managing a large and diverse community: "Maintaining control in such a large community can be challenging, but we make every effort to communicate that violence and offensive language have no place here. I've witnessed numerous instances where individuals have attempted to insult others due to dissatisfaction with pricing."
She further elaborated, "We issue warnings to those who engage in such behaviour and closely monitor their activities. If they persist in violating the rules, we take necessary actions, such as blocking or reporting them, to maintain the integrity of the group," she told Prime Progress.
Aysha also highlighted additional challenges, including the inability to approve posts as quickly as some members may desire due to their other commitments outside of managing the group.
"The group is open to anyone and everyone interested in its activities, and we've seen a significant increase in membership. However, this growth means we must redouble our efforts to address people's needs," she explained.
"This task isn't straightforward because many people want to buy and sell, and with thousands of members, we must carefully review the content they want to share. Balancing this with our personal commitments can be quite challenging, especially when members keep sending in more content," she elaborated.
The established standards serve as a crucial tool for the group administrators to maintain control over the content shared within the group, ensuring that it aligns with the group's purpose and removing inappropriate posts.
Faruk and Aysha achieved certification for the group in 2021 through the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria. This certification has transformed their platform into one with boundless marketing potential.
They are optimistic that their platform will eventually attract millions of participants who can comfortably buy and sell, creating a thriving and dynamic marketplace.