When Fatima Ali Grema started her textile-selling business in 2020, she was studying for a National Diploma at the Ramat Polytechnic, Maiduguri.
Combining business and schooling has been challenging for the 21-year-old. Still, her passion for expanding the business and building an enterprise fuels her drive.
Grema’s ‘ Hanan collections’ business deals in textiles and offers products like Ankara, Abaya, Borno knitted caps, Arabian Z and Nigerian wears.
Grema has, through years of being on social media, utilised the platform to promote her business, and it has paid off. “ I get a lot of customers on social media depending on the platform.”
The young entrepreneur has over 15,000 followers on Twitter, 3,493 on Instagram, 7000 on Facebook and 236 on Tiktok.
“Online business is the wave of the moment. It is an easy medium for reaching wider customers,” she said.
Grema has a shop in Kano state and is hopeful to get one in Maiduguri, but according to her, social media has and will continue to transform her business.
This is also the case with 23-year-old Atinuke Sharon Francis, who is based in Kano state.
Francis, who doesn’t own a physical store, has grown her business since 2021 to have clients in more than five states in Nigeria.
“I have gotten a lot of customers in this business. They come through advertisements and referrals from other customers that like the quality of the items they buy from me.”
Francis sells Nigerian, Turkey and China-made products, including unisex clothes, baby wears, shoes, bags, kitchen items, bed frames, cupboards and many more.
“I sell so many things that would make me say it’s only humans that I don’t sell. Even if I don’t have products when they are ordered, I can get them quickly,” she said.
Francis also pays people with a large followership and audience base to post her products, and this has paid off, as she has received customers through that channel.
“I have customers who buy products from Kaduna, Abuja, Zaria, Jigawa, Katsina, Adamawa, Bauchi, Lagos, Asaba. I look forward to getting more,” She explained.
Grema and Francis are only two of the many Nigerians who have used social media to improve their lives.
The journey to now
According to data from Statista, there are 31.6 million active social media users in Nigeria as of January 2023.
WhatsApp is the most popular platform, with a market share of 95% of total social media users, with Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram following behind.
Also, Nigeria has more significant internet users, with 122.5 million people; internet penetration is at 55.4 %.
All these stand on 193.9 million cellular mobile connections, which is 87.7 % of the total population.
Nigerians use social media for various reasons including to connect with friends, for news and many like Grema and Facebook use it for business.
Using Social Media to make ends meet
While the use of social media for business in Nigeria has its roots in the ingenuity of Nigerians, the growth of social media in Africa’s largest democracy is tied to the internet revolution the country has experienced.
The internet was first introduced in Nigeria in the early 1990s, but it was only available to a few people, mostly government officials and academics.
Nigeria’s first Internet Service Provider was the National Center for Communication Technologies or NCCT. In 1996, the world wide web or WWW, became available in Nigeria, and in 1998, complete Internet services became available.
And with the later creation of the Nigeria Communication Commission or NCC and subsequent entry of mobile communication, the cost of internet access decreased, and it became more accessible to a broader range of people.
In subsequent years, the proliferation of mobile phones and the rise of mobile data services further accelerated internet penetration in Nigeria.
The growth of social media and e-commerce platforms also played a pivotal role in shaping Nigeria’s digital landscape. Today, Nigeria stands as one of Africa’s largest and most dynamic online communities, fostering innovation, e-commerce, and digital entrepreneurship, and many Nigerians have eked a living for themselves on the various platforms.
From social media influencers, who have grown colossal followership and have converted that followership into an audience people pay to show their products to, to content creators on platforms like YouTube and Facebook who share revenue with the companies, to individuals who have built trust with their audience and advertise to them, Nigerians have found a way to earn from social media, and they are utilising it.