Entrepreneurship – Sales or Return Agreements

June 30, 2014

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What are Sales or Return Agreements and when do they become useful for an entrepreneur?

 

In the present economy with limited credit SOR Agreements are a increasingly popular way for new suppliers, distributors and manufacturers to build a distribution network with established retail outlets. Sales or return (also called a consignment agreement) is a commercial arrangement by which a retailer pays only for goods sold, returning this that are unsold to the supplier.  The supplier is the seller and retains ownership of the goods till they are paid for in full and after a certain period takes back unsold goods.

 

While a SOR agreement might seem like a great way to move mechanise it is important to be aware of the risks and mitigate them accordingly. technically the supplier is providing credit for the buyer, at 30, 60, 90 days or more. The number of days that you are willing to provide credit depends on a number of things – the capacity of the retail outlet,  their reputation, the customer traffic and the terms and conditions (T&Cs) you agree with them. Always try to have a written agreement. A lot of trading in Nigeria is on the informal market where written agreements are rare, it is important nevertheless to have a written document or if you are using a verbal agreement clear terms and witnesses.

 

Terms and conditions should include clauses that cover what happens in the event of loss from theft, fire or bankruptcy.  Legally the retailer does not own the goods and they remain the responsibility of the supplier. Because the retailer does not own the goods and can return all unsold stock there is no great incentive to market your product. Try and negotiate display terms and if you will do any in store marketing (e.g. display cards, posters, stand etc) discuss with the retailer before hand and be sure they agree for you to bring in and display your marketing materials.

 

Also every important to get the retailer to agree to pay for any damaged goods. This is frequently neglected and goods are returned damaged or shabby and the supplier is unable to sell them elsewhere as new. One way to mitigate this risk is to deliver a limited quantity of goods for a shorter period of time and to visit the retail outlet frequently to assess the status.  You can read more about how to mitigate the risks of SOR agreements here.

 

 

Hell Is Being Stuck in A Nation Of Passive – Aggressive Malcontents

June 28, 2014

I’m tired of Nigerians that have nothing better to do than bellyache about everything. Criticism has become a national past time. We are a nation of dour faced malcontents.

 

“Nigerian ehn? See dem! How stupid is dat? Who gave dem driving licence sef? This country ehn?” says my very Nigerian friend disdainfully.

 

“Are we not Nigerians too?”

 

“I’m talking about the unwashed, ignorant, superstitious masses. You know, everybody else.”

 

‘Are we different from the them?’

 

“Why are you talking like dat? You’re a lawyer, you’re exposed, travelled, you see how its done in other countries.”

 

“So does that mean we are not Nigerians anymore?”

 

“Me, I’m an Afropolitan sha.”

 

“Ok. But no one taught them the the highway code. Their idea of driving is ‘move the car, keep moving’. Some dude was asked what he thought the broken white lines in the middle of the road meant. He said he thought the painters had run out of paint.”

 

“See. Its the governments fault. Nigerian leaders, ehn? They are so busy enriching themselves they don’t care what happens to the rest of us….”

 

He became one of the masses all of a sudden.

 

I tune out. This is getting tedious. Everywhere I go sooner or later the conversation veers towards all the things wrong with Nigeria and Nigerians.

 

“Nigerians are like this…Nigerians are like that….”

 

Try to start a business in Nigeria

 

“It won’t work here, you know we are different…”

 

Yeah we know you are different. We’re actually asking you to change you know.

 

When I’m driving in Nigeria – I just accept the fact that 99% of the other drivers probably never took a driving test or read a high way code and are prone to road rage. I put on my music and my sunglasses, say a prayer and drive carefully. I’m not about to spoil my day bitching about it and getting sick.

 

What would I rather talk about?

 

I’m obsessed with mechanising mass production of garri. Now that would be a revolution.  EVERYBODY in Nigeria eats garri. I’m obsessed with finding efficient distribution channels and harnessing informal markets. I’m obsessed with the human stories of Nigeria. I’m obsessed with justice.

 

Beyond a necessary analysis of the dynamics of a problem I don’t want to obsess on it. I want to obsess about solutions, case studies, best practices.  I want to talk more about the triumphs of Nigeria’s humanity less about its fuck ups. I’m imperfect too.

 

But scandal sells. Outrage reinforces the feeling of superiority.

 

“This is my opinion, the one I think everyone should have.” he tweets.

 

“Can you imagine! A man runs away from the scene of an explosion wearing a back pack and police shoot him because he ignored their shouts to stop. How stupid is that! How do they know he’s a terrorist? He could just be in shock.” She quips.

 

“Nice shot Nigerian police man!”  I think.

 

We’re all experts. We’re Nigeria.

 

Follow the Yellow Brick Road Photo Lesley Agams

Follow the Yellow Brick Road Photo Lesley Agams

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Fall of Bagdad!

June 18, 2014

I don’t need a movie! Its even got its own soundtrack on CNN.

The Arab Spring has been very frosty.

As I watch the news I can’t help wonder if this will be Nigeria soon. The parallels are striking.

I wonder if its good or bad. What does it say about a ‘nation’ when it must use force to hold itself together?

There will be death, pain and wailing in the land. As mothers cry. As wives cry. As children cry.

Are you ready for the tsunami? Are you afraid? Or ‘alarmed?

Are you perspiring? or sweating?

What will be will be. Brace yourself. Here it comes.

I feel the reverberations  under my feet

Is your house built on a rock or on sand? Where will you find yourself tomorrow when the sun comes up?

Buckle up, buckle up … the time has come for which you were born.

Bear witness

 

 

 

 

Thinking About My Father on Father’s Day

June 15, 2014

I been thinking about my father. Not surprising. The capitalist machine has been churning the cream. All its been selling the past two weeks or so is Father’s Day.  Its made me think about my father. We never did Fathers Day. Or birthdays. Or Christmas Day, me and him. Not after we returned to the village. He was a socialist, a free thinker and he was into conspiracy theories.

“It is all American imperialist  propaganda. Don’t you know that December 25th used to be a Roman pagan ceremony?” he told me.

“Its just a festival Dad, a time for people to be happy.”

“If you want a festival to be happy at, come home for Owuh. It is our own.”

I never did.  Not after I left the village for Lagos.

We had a difficult relationship. Me and my father. He was always trying to make me submit and I was always resisting. I had a mind of my own. There was no ‘mother’ to mediate. He was smart but I always considered myself smarter. Even when I was four. He thought so too. Why else would he call me an accomplice in my own kidnapping from Russia when I was three and a half?

I been thinking about him a lot  lately even before Father’s Day advertising began. He passed away 3 years ago. I think I maybe finally letting go so much of the bitterness and disappointment that characterised our relationship.

He was a harsh man, a pure narcissist. It was  always his way or the high way. I spent many a night on that highway. I was a defiant child. He tried but he couldn’t beat it out of me. He brought me to the village to add value at the community level, he believed in community development. He also believed in violent revolution. He was a fighter, a warrior, with hot blood and a hot temper.

He was also charming and urbane, with a gift for the gab. He either charmed or bullied everybody he met into submission. Or he ignored them if he couldn’t. The ladies loved him. Even when he beat and abused them. Then I hated him for them and for me. I don’t know maybe he was a generous lover. I escaped as soon as I could. I could love him better at a distance.

Years of living in the village disabled him physically, emotionally, mentally and cognitively. He died from complications of diabetes on 6 April 201,1 a paranoid, bitter, nasty old man. His death took me by surprise. I used to joke he was too mean to die.

I loved my father very much. I miss him  when I have a question about the family history and genealogy. He could recite the names of his ancestors back ten generations. I miss him when I see his hand in the process of my evolution but can’t say “Thanks Dad, I get it now”.  I miss him because he was the first man I loved.

 

The Politics of Fathers Day

June 15, 2014

Men all over the world are gleefully embracing  Father’s Day, some have even called it Man’s Day. Makes you almost feel sorry for them. Its like they are celebrating a victory. A lot of the dad’s I know are even wishing themselves Happy Father’s Day. It must be tough being a father in this rapidly changing modern (or is it post-modern) world.

Father’s Day is also provoking some feminist back lash. I read some radical feminist group in America went to court to stop Father’s Day. Now why would they do that? Its feminists  like that give feminism a bad name. I want to celebrate father’s and fatherhood, its about time we had more positive messaging around fatherhood and men.

Not all father’s are dead beat dad’s, bums, drunks, cheats, narcissists and wife beaters. There are lots of committed, caring and engaged father’s out there and we need positive reinforcement to make more good dad’s. Of course when you witness the abuse  a lot of women  and children worldwide receive from fathers its easy to want to hate all men. Especially if your personal experience was rough.

But even ‘bad’ fathers deserve some empathy. They’re not always evil (though some are for sure) sometimes they’re just miseducated. The old school dad’s were particularly harsh. Someone told them ‘petting’ the kids was bad. They had a Colonel Von Trapp mentality and submissive wives.

I always tell my male friends that how they treat their daughters is how their daughters will expect to be treated by men. So if you treat her (and her mother) good she is less likely to accept bad treatment from an intimate male partner when she grows up.

So all you dad’s out there enjoy your day, whether you’re a good dad or a dead beat dad your kids love you. I hope they can tell you that comfortably.

 

Adult Sex Education – Casual Sex, Hook-Ups & Friends With Benefits

June 13, 2014

As part of Adult Sex Education month I’m facilitating a discussion on twitter tonight on “Casual Sex, Hook-Ups & Friends With Benefits”. ‘Casual sex‘, also called recreational sex, seems to be any sexual activity outside the context of a committed emotionally exclusive relationship.

 

There is a diversity of opinion for and against casual sex.  And different standards and sanctions for men and women that have casual sex even though the World Health Organisation has said;

“Sexual rights protect all people’s rights to fulfil and express their sexuality and enjoy sexual health, with due regard for the rights of others and within a framework of protection against discrimination.” (WHO, 2006a, updated 2010)

Most Nigerian’s don’t talk about sex openly. And when they do they rarely tell the truth. The appearance of virtue is frequently more important than actual virtue. Adult Sex Month is a great opportunity to crack open that guilt ridden vault and let in some air and light.

As a Nigerian what do you think about casual sex?  What is your advice on casual sex?  One young Nigerian women laments the new era of open sexuality and casual sex here.  Jess Obinwanne wrote about Nigeria’s changing sexual values in Daily Times in 2011 here.  I personally recall encountering similar  sentiments as a teenager and young adult, everyone publicly lamenting the loss of that Victorian innocence.  As usual without a hint of irony.

I googled ‘casual sex Nigeria’ I got lots of results for young men unabashedly looking for  sugar mummies, the two examples above and Dr. Abogena’s  ‘Christian Sex Rules‘.  He says casual sex is emotionally unsatisfying and ignores that an absence of emotion is the objective. I sent him an email asking him to share some more of his thoughts and join us tomorrow. Still waiting for a response. I saw only one result for a Nigerian female looking for casual sex on nairaland back in 2007. She was crucified.

When I googled ‘casual sex’ I got some sex positive, interesting and informative results from HuffPost, Jezebel, ask.men.co.uk and BlogHer.  Their advice can be summed up as – talk about it first, respect each others opinions (and feelings), use protection, talk about it again, where possible don’t spend the night together, don’t feel guilty and don’t exploit.  I also came across The Casual Sex Project where people share their casual sex stories in an effort to debunk stereotypes and misconceptions.

So as usual in Nigeria a lot of moralising and no useful advice despite the fact that a whole lot of casual sex is going on and is acknowledged. Over the past few days following other discussions on #sextalknaija I have been struck by suggestions that Nigerian women are unable to negotiate sex or are too inhibited sexually yet everyone is also lamenting the loss of values,  virginity, growing incidence of STI’s, divorce, ‘run babes’ and prostitution.

The choice to have casual sex (or any type of sex) or not resides with the parties and not anyone else but the choice must be an informed choice. Make no moral judgment about right or wrong/good or bad. That’s for each person to decide. Different strokes for different folks you know. Sorta like religion. Just keep health and safety first.  Before sensual pleasure. Or beside it at least. Right?

Let’s talk about this. Join me tonight at 7pm GMT for #sextalknaija

 

Did You Really Just Say That?

May 6, 2014

So you think its okay to make fun of Dame Patience Jonathan? I think its appalling. Its wrong. Why you making fun of her accent? Disdaining her education, calling her a market woman? What makes it even more appalling is that this is coming from so called returnees and diaspora’s, the same ones writing angst filled books about their victimized lives as immigrants  where they tell us how white people made fun of their accents, laughed at their lack of ‘manners’ and teased them about living in trees in Africa. What do we call you when you can’t even relate your present behavior to the behavior you complained about in the west?

All you folks making fun of Patience are snobs just like Wole Soyinka. You all really think because you speak better English and can copy the slave masters accents that you are better than every other Nigerian? You’re the ones with the ‘funny’ accents. We used to laugh our hearts out in the dorms after every encounter with those Nigerians forcing American and British accents. Now they dare to make fun of the first real representative woman of Nigeria to ever be First Lady. Yes, that is what Patience is, she is a grassroots woman and that is what is paining all the acada and been-to Tokunbo’s making fun of her.

‘How can this common woman come and be disgracing us”

What nonsense, Patience is the real Nigerian woman, market women leader and local woman that she is. Tinubu  even went so far as to make his daughter who has probably never sold a handkerchief in her life the Iyaloge of Lagos, is that one not market women leader? Why is it used to insult Patience? Get off your high horse and stop stop stop making fun of the woman. Must she speak in a foreign or your so called ‘cultured’ accents to be First Lady? Must the President?  Its not about how you look on the international stage. Its about what you do. This is not a monarchy or even a feudal aristocracy. This is a secular egalitarian society or that’s what we are trying to build here. And you call yourself ‘progressives’? Shame on you all that have been a party to this nonsense!

If Patience doesn’t get the job done – and she has no ‘job’ anyway so why don’t you all leave her alone – attack her for that but to make fun of an African woman for her accent? Or even her beliefs and values? You really think your borrowed western values are superior?

I’m watching you all! I see the ones making fun of this woman right now, don’t you dare come ask me for my vote or support EVER! Unless you stop, desist, apologize and show some remorse and respect for the millions of Nigerian woman who have never and may never have the opportunity to go abroad and get an education or just live there but who have been here all their lives struggling and holding this country together while you were out there learning to speak funny.

 

On Writing (I)

April 15, 2014

Its cool in side the bar. Outside the sun blazes with all the intensity that one would imagine appropriate to the desert. The Sahara desert or the Nevada desert or the Kalahari desert. Or the desert sands of the Arabian peninsula. We call it the Middle East now. The Theatre of War and Strife, perpetually dominating the evening news whether you live in America or Nigeria. But this isn’t the desert. Its central Nigeria, Abuja, the shiny bright new Federal Capital City. Except its not new anymore. Its beginning to look shabby and frayed around the edges . The paint gradually fading on the imposing federal buildings and private residences in the twenty years that I have lived here.

 

The condenser of the industrial fridge kicks in with a roar intruding into my reverie.  I look up and notice that the power is back on. It is 2 o’clock in the afternoon. The hottest part of the day despite what the geography books tell you. The heat has accumulated by 2 o’clock by 4 o’clock every body should be wilting in the shade but the natives never stop moving, bustling around, hustling. There are only so many hours in the day no matter how hot it may get. The desperate don’t rest and don’t wait for the sun to go down like the few of us lazy ones. The natives don’t like to go out at night. The dark has always held terror for them. Everyone wants to be back home or as close to his or her house as soon as possible after the sun goes down. Only the fool hardy elite and their sidekicks risk the malevolent night spirits to roam the numerous pubs and drinking parlors scattered in the dwindling green spaces left in the concrete city of wide bitumen roads.

 

I stare out of the glass wall into the parking lot. The bar isn’t open, I come here to work in the daytime till the proprietor my friend comes in at 6 pm to open for the evening customers parched from the heat and sun. Cold beer at the end of a hot day is the only slice of heaven they can afford. Its a neighborhood bar. A bit too upscale for the area its in. The customers are few but loyal. I pace around the small space like a caged lion or tiger.  Or maybe like a panther, a black panther. I always liked the black panther best. I pace a lot when I’m thinking something through, when I’m looking for a way out or a way in, whats the difference I wonder to myself.

 

I turn and stare at the Macbook Air sitting open on the table. Its bright screen stares back at me reproachfully. The light slowly fades as the power saver turns off the screen. Stories and ideas run around in my head but refuse to stand still long enough for me to capture them. Writing at the speed of thought is impossible and so is going back over the road I came. Rewriting is torturous. I don’t want to go back but I must. I stare back at the now black screen and resolutely turn it back on. The short story I have spent three months struggling over sits on my desk top.  I am not satisfied with it but I ignore it. Start something new.  Go somewhere else, in a different direction.

 

Sometimes I wish I could plug in a cable and down load all the stuff in my head, have someone transcribe it for me and read it 20 years from now. My writing always seems better after the passage of time. I’m never happy with anything I just wrote. Sometimes I forget a piece for weeks, months, years and when I come across it and read it again I look to see who wrote it. Was that me? Not bad.

 

Its hard to decide what to do. Work on my novel or work on that job application. I want to lose myself in my writing but I have to get a job. Paid employment is a necessity right now even though it is a luxury. Without an income life is drab and boring and monotonous. There are no options no choices no action only an endless pause. Like a car stranded in the middle of no where with no gas.  Or like a movie that has been paused. It will continue from the very place it stopped but the wait is interminable, agonizing to my restless spirit.

 

I decide to write. I just had a good interview.  They will let me know. The next application can wait till tomorrow.

 

I can never write fast enough, the words tumble out in a rush, incomprehensible without a rewrite and an edit. I will stick to it and let the words pour out. I may have a thousand stories echoing in my head but to retrieve just one would bring satisfaction, a single legacy that I can leave on my demise to say, hey I was here and this is my story.

 

Selfie

Selfie

 

Going to the Market is Always An Event

February 26, 2014

I haven’t been to the market in a long while. I could afford to buy groceries at Spars, Shoprite, Amigo and Dunes. I even disdained Sahad Stores because I bought a fake box of Persil there once. The convenience was worth the price.

This morning I went to Garki market with my bff. There is an electronic barrier at the entrance now. Someone stands there, punches out a ticket and hands it to us. It’s still early, the heat won’t be overwhelming for at least another hour.

The secret to going to the market – go early. Everything is fresh, the sellers are eager to make their first sale and believe it can give them good luck. Although some people prefer to go at the end of the day because its cheaper.

My bff drives into the car lot. We are here to buy fruits and vegetables. I see some near the entrance. She keeps driving.

“Why you parking here? The veg stall is back there.”

“We’re going that way” she points to an un-tarred dusty lane leading off the lot.

“Why?”

“Because its cheaper”

Of course it is. We walk in the direction she pointed. The road is steep and rough.

“No wonder its cheaper. This road is rough”.

We are going deeper into the market. I’m glad I wore my sun cap but wish I had used some sunscreen.

“Is it muddy?”

“Nah”.

An open van stands at the end of the lane. It just delivered meat and is being washed down. Bloody water flows into the dirt lane in a muddy red trail. I feel like I’m wading through rivers of blood. I’m careful not to stain my white Birkenstocks.

But I’m still feeling magnanimous. I take some pictures. The market boys notice me. They start speaking Chinese at me. I smile good naturedly. To them all white people must look the same.

I remember going to the market in my village.

“Owu nwa Agwubuo. Nna ya kporo ya lota obodo oyibo”

Women would leave their wares to touch me, touch my hair. Pregnant women would rub up against me believing they could rub off some of my yellow on their unborn baby. Every woman wanted a yellow baby. Yellow babies brought good luck and wealth.

Then they would give me presents of food; smoked fish, akara wrapped in leaves, bananas, peanuts. Children followed me through the market and all the way home.

Father disapproved but I paid him no mind. I had no fear of these people and I did cute things like fetch firewood and water for old childless widows and give old men Father’s Schnapps to tell me stories. They loved me.

Eventually my bff and I get to the very heart of the market. The vegetables are fresh and the price is great. Here they usually sell to smaller distributors. I buy avocado’s, lettuce, cabbage, green peppers, tomatoes, oranges, mangoes, celery, parsley and potatoes for half the price I would pay at the supermarket.

How Brown Skin Behaved In The Heat

February 24, 2014

There was a heat wave in England last week; it was all too much sunshine for me

Coming from Africa recently but after a while I came out wondering what I would see

I met enough feminine flesh to make a good Muslim flee! Or make a black man happy

Give them a break it’s just how they were raised.  It’s called cultural relativity

They were told women were evil, encouraged to rape any female they find too revealing

They were told she’ll stir up the devil in Him. So they wrapped her up and blamed her for sin

Built her a cage and a prison to safely reside, made her swallow her pride

Told her the laws can’t withstand the frenzied lust of an unrestrained man

Men are powerless, pliant and weak in the palm of a feminine hand

Surely the Queen shouldn’t let such brutes into her land

Because her subjects aren’t allowed to surrender to mere notions of gender

When the sun shines they’re allowed to submit to the heat, encouraged to bare

Miles of pale limbs in shorts and no hair! Shorts everywhere! Shorts here and there

Short shorts. Bum shorts.  Cut off shorts. Bermuda shorts. Baggy shorts

Male and female shorts. Actually, I snort, they are male and white female shorts

When a brown woman strides past purposefully, I can see she’s not on a spree

She and her daughter dressed similarly, dressed like the winter is near

I expect innocence to find it queer and ask ‘Mama, why are we the only ones covered here?’

‘The End is coming against the infidels dear. The Jihad is here.’

So youth and goodness is indoctrinated, mis-educated, alienated, contaminated

Truism and individualism besieged by cynicism, populism, culturism, religionism

For the free, many a crisis there’ll be till the seed finally grows into that mighty tree

Meanwhile it seems to be that brown skin is hiding from me, covered in Modesty

A legacy of Victorian hypocrisy, a story full of chicanery, travesty and tragedy

Brown skin hides nervously, in ignominy and suddenly my pale skin fills me with Superiority

Because it privileges me, apparently, it could be the key

It lets me display my brown skin with pride, why should I hide when pale skin sits in the light

Trying to be superficially brown while my brown sister tries to be superficially white

And Brown skin hides. Saying I am retiring. I am religious. I am righteous. I am right

See brown sisters hold their men tight, ever ready to fight, for the right to share in his plight

While pale bodies go on display for a warm summer day. Looking for bargains to trade

The young the old, the not so beautiful, bodies of all attitudes are here on parade

Even age refuses to wrap itself in a charade while Brown skin shouts ‘I’m no longer for sale!’

My brown brother can’t look away, taught to feel yearning but not what to say

The change is complete, who is naked walking the street?  Where is the justice of peace?

Take me home, this is too much temptation for me, I haven’t learnt to be free

I rather live in the safety of my false piety or even blame my weakness on thee

Rather than take responsibility for my sexuality, I will hide my brown skin in a black maxi

I’m from Nigeria, across the sea, conservative and free, a reactionary rebels in me

My Brown skin is still searching for yours truly still asking itself “Who I be?”

 


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