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It’s been a month since the Connect Nigeria Business Fair held at the Tafawa Balewa Square. In that time, we have had the chance to reflect on the showcase of enterprise and the festival of smart business ideas that it was. And there’s still a lot to glean from all we witnessed at the fair.

The panel sessions and master classes had some of Nigeria’s brightest and most experienced business executives and startup founders sharing brilliant tips for succeeding in our peculiar business climate. The exhibitions teemed with SMEs and big name brands offering the best of their services to the many attendees, and the halls were streams of participants connecting with each other and launching new business relationships.

The big highlights from day one of the Business Fair were from the panel discussions, where speakers from a wide array of sectors spoke about their entrepreneurial journeys and the path to creating a corporate empire.

Rave TV founder, Agatha Amata, was forthright and inspiring in emphasizing the need for businesspeople to “get a thick skin”; Femi Oye of SME Funds drew the audience’s applause with his commonsense tips for securing business finance; and Afolabi Abiodun, CEO of SB Telecoms, left mouths agape as he narrated his own story of battling crushing debt in his earlier years to found one of the country’s more successful ICT companies.

There was a good deal of selling, lead hunting, and deal-making at the exhibition hall too. Fashion labels, digital tech brands, financial services, and even food vendors had their products on show at the booths to interact with customers and potential clients; many of them shared glowing reviews of their experience at the event.

Tolulope Oginni, CEO of Transfurd Farms and an exhibitor at the fair described it as “mind-blowing”, and about sales, said, “almost sold everything we came with.” Dan Kente, an IT personnel at Gridcode, enthused about meeting with “over 900 people”; and Max from Jiji said he was delighted to have met with several partners and sellers at the fair.

Day two was a step-up from the first. The experts on the panel shared more business growth insights, brands recorded more sales, and the networking at the sidelines intensified. The masterclasses went into full swing, facilitated by professionals and experienced entrepreneurs who presented the audience with the basics and cutting edge of business in today’s world.

Participants, for the most part, have said that they gained a lot from the event. The knowledge from the discussion forums, the pitches they made and the leads they picked up all made it worth attending. For many, simply being there to see the energy and verve of enterprise on display at the venue was enough to take home from their time there.

Sam Afemikhe, CEO of accounting startup iCOOba BMAC, said he was glad to have attended. “I’m pretty impressed by the spirit”, he said. “It’s buzzing, it’s alive.”

Hassanat Salami, an entrepreneur and participant, said that she was encouraged by the business growth tips and strategies she had learned. Her words:

“I think at this point, I should be able to grow my business and make it bigger than what it currently is.”

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This article was first published on 30th May 2019


Ikenna Nwachukwu holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He loves to look at the world through multiple lenses- economic, political, religious and philosophical- and to write about what he observes in a witty, yet reflective style.

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