The “bottom billion” refers to the poorest people in the world and not necessarily countries. Although they may be concentrated in the poorest countries in the world, especially in Africa, they are also found in many developing countries across especially across the globe. These people suffer from many problems as a result of their country’s situation apparently because the country itself is so poor and cannot provide itself with requirements for survival ; the kind of aid it is receiving simply is not appropriate and is thus not working ; it is ravaged by war and similar problems ; or, poor governance and lack of ‘inclusive growth’ mechanisms in its economy . These observations seem true for many poor countries, especially the poorest countries in the world which are mostly located in Africa.
In The Bottom Billion, Nigeria is one of the countries that the book most frequently referred. This may be one of the countries where some kind of social product—like mosquito nets—could be produced, marketed and even exported.
Nigeria is not among the poorest countries in the world—it is not in the 20 pporest list, but it has its share of some of the poorest people in the world. It has a GDP of US$568.5 billion in 2014, growing at 6.3% per year. It has a respectable GDP per capita US$3,005.5 that is higher than some of today’s fastest growing economies in the world like India with US$1,497.5, the Philippines with US$2,765.1, and Vietnam with1,910.5. With regard to ease of doing business, it ranks near the bottom at 170 out of 189 countries.
Nigeria’s major industries include: “crude oil, coal, tin, columbite; rubber products, wood; hides and skins, textiles, cement and other construction materials, food products, footwear, chemicals, fertilizer, printing, ceramics, steel”. Its main agricultural products are: “cocoa, peanuts, cotton, palm oil, corn, rice, sorghum, millet, cassava (manioc, tapioca), yams, rubber; cattle, sheep, goats, pigs; timber; and fish”.
Meanwhile, the country is rated—on a seven-scale rating with C and D as the lowest—C in country risk assessment and D in business climate. It is a leading African power in terms of GDP and has the country’s largest population. It has large natural resources and agricultural potential. It also has a low level of debt, both foreign and public.
The country has some serious problems at the same time. It is highly dependent on oil for its revenues which account for about 90% of exports an 80% of tax revenues. In spite of its being an oil exporting country, it has limited refining capacity which require costly imports. The country also suffers from a lot of civil strife as a result of ethnic and religious tensions. Poor governance and corruption has led to a negative impact on the business climate.
The country was a former British colony or protectorate. It gained independence in 1960. It has an elected civil government. It does not follow a fixed or specific economic system. The economy enjoys a variety of freedom and at the same some centralized planning and government regulation. The country is a member of the African Union (AU) and the African Economic Community (AEC).
While it has a population of 177,155,754 per 2014 estimates, it suffers from a high mortality rate mainly as a result of AIDS, tropical diseases like Malaria and civil strife. There are about 250 ethnic groups in the population, of which about 50% are Muslims and 40% are Christians.
Development, Poverty and Marketing
Nigeria has a very high poverty rate of about 61% . Uplifting the poor need not always be through generic forms of aid and similar assistance. Thus, after all these years, many aid and assistance programs have not worked to improve the poverty situation. Poverty alleviation programs should be location and situation specific.
In Africa in general, while there are many causes of poverty in the country, two can be addressed by independent bodies and the private sector: education and health. However, even before education could be addressed, people should be fairly healthy. One of the leading causes of low productivity, reduced work time and poor attendance in school is disease, in particular malaria. Because of malaria, people end up spending more time recuperating that working or studying. The solution to the problem seems to be fairly simple. Keep people from getting sick. One of the cheapest and easily implementable ways is the distribution of mosquito nets. The use of mosquito nets has been reported to have significantly improve the health of the poor in the population, especially those in the rural areas.
Given the country’s poverty situation and needs, the mosquito net is one product that could be produced in the country and marketed not only in Nigeria but also in the rest of Africa.
The mosquito net is an ideal product to market in Nigeria as it can serve a social purpose at the same time. It will help improve people’s health. Its manufacture could provide employment to some sectors of the poor. The technology for the manufacture of mosquito net also exist in Nigeria as there is an existing industry in the country already. Since the product would suffer some wear and tear, users would eventually have to replace them. So, there would be a steady market for the product.
Mosquito nets are a commodity in many tropical countries. The materials used could vary from traditional, handmade nets to mass produced synthetic materials. The product to be marketed will be branded and will be available in three variants—regular, special and premium. The nets will follow the WHO guidelines, especially with regard to the use of pesticide that could last for years, and safe for users and the environment.
The regular variant is the most basic product as recommended by WHO. It is made from the recommended synthetic materials and insecticide. This would be positioned for the poorest of the population. The variant would mainly be bought by donors and by those replacing their worn-out nets.
The special variant would use low-cost but natural, environment-friendly materials. Cotton or some other naturally produced material could be used. This would allow the country to generate some productivity in harnessing its agricultural potential. The special nets would also use the recommended insecticide.
The premium variant would be like the traditional hand-made nets. The product would target the rich in Nigeria and the rest of Africa. It would also target hotels and tourist resorts throughout the continent. The premium nets may have to be designed differently to suit the large beds used in hotels and large houses. While it will also have the protective capability of all the other nets, its function is mainly decorative.
The three variants will have to be branded and packaged differently to reflect their different positioning.
For the regular variant mainly used for donations, WHO recommends a maximum price of US$5.00. However, the company should target a much lower price, especially for wholesale, to compete against existing suppliers.
The special variant can be priced around US$10.00. So, the choice of the materials should reflect the higher pricing and at the same allow for higher margins.
The premium variant can be priced at US$20.00 or even higher. This is targeting the higher end of the market, including tourists. Part of the proceeds of the sales would be used to produce more of the regular variant for donation.
The mosquito nets will be distributed through the regular channels used to sell to the NGOs and other organizations that purchase the nets for donation and distribution.
Public relations would be the major tool to promote the brand. It will use the internet mainly to communicate to its target customers. Its e-retail sites will serve as both a selling and promotion medium.
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