Making success of Dubai business trips

THE PUNCH Newspaper- Chinyere Fred-Adegbulugbe

Until a few years ago, Dubai was just one of those Arabian cities. Not many Nigerians had much to do with it.

That, however, has changed. Due to high unemployment rate that has left a considerable number of people looking for means of livelihood, many, especially women, have turned to trading. And with all its allure and promise of wonderful shopping experience, Dubai become the destination of choice.

With its 70 shopping malls including the world‘s seventh largest, Dubal mall, this city has certainly earned its appendage as the shopping capital of the Middle East. This glittering city in the desert, which is a constituent member of the United Arab Emirates, along with six other emirates has since metamorphosed into a household name in Nigeria.

Mrs Yinka Osoko-Elewononi is one of those that have successfully tapped into the trading opportunities this business hub provides.

The Theatre Arts graduate of University of Jos, Nigeria, was working with an Israeli telecommunications company until 10 years ago when she lost her job.

Her next line of action was to trade. ”I was used to it because my mother is a businesswoman. And even as a student, she would give me handy wares to sell for her among my school mates and it was a successful venture for me then,” she explains.

Though she started by sourcing her goods locally, it was not long before she caught the ‘Dubai business fever‘.

Since then she has not looked back.

According to her, being able to buy good quality goods in wholesale prices has greatly helped her to successfully build her trading venture. ”Being a world market, when you buy things there in bulk, you can conveniently retail here and make good profits,” she adds.

However, she says that the secret in making quick returns lies in not setting retail prices at cutthroat.

Another ‘Dubai businesswoman‘, Ms. Onyeka Anakwe, is also stresses the need to achieve sustainable profitability by giving clients affordable prices.

Incidentally, Anakwe who has a Master‘s degree in Public and International Affairs at the University of Lagos also studied Theartre Arts at the University of Jos for her Bachelor‘s degree.

She recalls turning to the business when the company where she was working as a sales manager became liquidated. ”With my background in sales and encouragement from a friend who was already doing the business, I decided to give it a trial.”

For her, it was clothing products and other fashion accessories that she could easily market considering the kind of people she interacted with.

This strategy, Osoko-Elewononi says, is good. It is important for any entrepreneur going into the business to buy things that can easily be disposed of to friends, relatives, acquaintances and colleagues, since they do not usually have stalls where they can hang their goods.

She warns, “Always buy goods that will appeal to your own kind of clients. Do not get to Dubai and get distracted with what other shoppers are buying. Stick to your clients preferences.”

She points out that since there is no shop for one to display one‘s goods, it is therefore important to advertise your wares and introduce them to many people as possible.

In her own case, though she started with clothing accessories, after building a different class of clientele, supplying computer accessories sourced from Dubai has become her new focus.

Giving further advice on how to turn this kind of business into a success, she says, ”Avoid buying from retail shops in Dubai as you may discover when you come back to Nigeria that you will not be able to sell them at profitable rates. One also has to be determined and consistent. Then there are some people who are not adequately disciplined for this kind of business. Once they have money and get to Dubai, they end up spending 50 per cent of it buying things for themselves. This is not wise and should be avoided.”

Anakwe also cautions against making use of agents at the Dubai malls. Most of them, she explains, are Nigerians who connive with stall owners to inflate prices. One way to escape this trap is to go with someone more experienced if you are a first-timer, she states.

In order to get good bargains, she says, the best strategy is to visit the malls during sales periods. ”From January to February of every year, there is the Dubai discount festival, which usually lasts a month-long. Periods like the Ramadan, Christmas and summer are so good because of the sales. These are the best times to get good bargains,” she adds.

Starting this business needs money. According to Osoko-Elewononi, though an entrepreneur can begin with about N300,000, it would make more business sense to invest at least N1m.

However, Anakwe believes that it depends on one‘s clients. “If you are servicing low-income clients, you can go to market with N500, 000 but if you are servicing medium or high-income clients, the least you will need for each business trip is N1.5m.”


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