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    There are hundreds of platforms operating across Nigeria. From Jumia and Konga, which connects providers to buyers, to Hello Tractor, which connects farmers to providers of farming equipment, online platforms have the inherent yet unleashed capacities to drive economic and financial inclusion in Nigeria. Economic and financial inclusion is when people are executing their means of livelihood through an online platform.
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In Nigeria, over 80% of the nation’s workforce is in the informal sector. What is worse is that the level of digital literacy is abysmally low. This unpleasant landscape can be challenging for both old and new platforms. However, with the availability of larger global platforms, there is hope. This article will review four ways platforms help drive financial and economic inclusion in Nigeria. 
  • Formalised The Informal Sector

Over 80% of Nigeria’s population work in the informal sector. Moreover, most are financially excluded or not active users of platforms. Therefore, platforms must apply many inducement strategies to attract them to the digital system. When the informal sector is digitised and standardised, platforms can access workers’ income information, which can help make economic inclusion workable. However, the challenge of ensuring that informal workers are formalised, for example, maintaining the ethics of business registration or enforcing tax deductions, persists. Nevertheless, there is a way around this huddle. Although formalisation presents some advantages to small businesses and entrepreneurs, it is a huge turn-off as becoming formalised is expensive. Platforms can only lobby with regulators to give them a blanket “Platform-based Tax” for their enlisted online workers, to facilitate the process and financial burden.
  • Platforms Must Play A Role In Addressing Skills And Literacy Gaps

One of the primary reasons there is slight financial and economic inclusion in Nigeria is the low level of digital literacy. Therefore, platforms must play a critical role in offering immediate and continuous support to their users through upskilling and reskilling to help themselves and their users succeed. This type of training will take three approaches: soft skills, technical skills and digital literacy skills. This training is best done in an intensive manner, which should be done often in person during onboarding and should be then followed up by another digital or non-digital upskilling mode.
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For example, ride-hailing platforms can put their drivers through a two-day training session where they focus mainly on their core product offering and how they can ensure the safety of their vehicles. After this, a day of soft skills training such as customer relations and digital literacy on how to use and navigate their apps should be taught  When platforms may feel overwhelmed with training users, they can set up training centres where drivers are trained on various courses on product core offerings, digital literacy and other soft skills taught before being onboarded. 
  • Establish An Tech And Touch Approach 

The platform must engage in a Tech and Touch approach if they want to increase financial and economic inclusion in Nigeria. They must continuously operate a business model that creates an interlink between the online and offline worlds.  With regards to how much digitisation has taken place in almost every sector of the economy, there must be no bright red line separating the online and offline worlds. To this end, platforms must develop physical touch with their users regardless of how much digital operation they carry out. This is why Jumia, an e-commerce platform, still engages in-home delivery, where delivery agents get to meet customers. 
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While it is okay to provide a help desk that responds to the needs of consumers, it is expedient to have field agents and outposts where there can be an interface between the customers and the platform representatives. This is very important as problems about skilling and reskilling clients, product users, and businesses will be best done in a person-to-person mode.
  • Financial Incentives As A Strategy 

One of the key value propositions platforms can offer users is access to financial services. You rarely discover a platform granting one product or service, but often a bundle of technical and financial offerings. Whatever platform you operate, whether agro-tech, med-tech or fin-tech, the easiest way to financially include a large number of users is by providing a financial bundle, they can find attractive. For example, agro-techs can offer smallholder farmers discounted quality inputs, a savings and loan service, an open marketplace for agricultural products and an adaptive learning system. The smallholder farmers then have an incentive to continue working on the platform. Moreover, one can engage in rotating credit products, which can enhance user loyalty. 

Concluding Remarks

This article reviewed four pathways to improve financial and economic inclusion in Nigeria and any emerging market. First, platforms must formalise the informal sector by securing subsidised worker taxes. Second, bridge the literacy gap by skilling and upskilling workers, clients and users. Third, establish a tech and touch model by blurring the line separating offline and online words. Finally, offer incentives to attract and sustain users and clients. Featured Image Source: Studytienganh
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This article was first published on 6th October 2022


Nnaemeka is an academic scholar with a degree in History and International Studies from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He is also a creative writer, content creator, storyteller, and social analyst.

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