Risk taking is a necessary ingredient of growth and innovation, but it can be difficult to take the first step and dive into the unknown. MEDA’s Nigeria WAY project is working to teach risk management to 497 small entrepreneurs (ENs), particularly women and youth in the rice, groundnut, and soy sectors that were chosen from different Savings and Loans groups (SLGs). The ENs are being trained on BDS Risk taking by one of WAY’s partners – Emerald Capital Consult Management in the seven Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Bauchi State.
The results of this project on ENs have been substantial- Zainab, a 43-year-old woman who works in the soy business, stated that she always tried not to incur debt, working with only two measures (2 kg or 4.4 lbs) of soybeans that she processes every day for her business. But after attending the risk-taking course, she is now willing to take on more risk. “…. with what I learned, I tried to add half a measure to what I now process to see the outcome. You see this is a risk for me, but I have learned that whatever the outcome, I should be willing to learn from it and not be afraid,” Zainab reflected.
Like Zainab, Abu, a 39-year-old rice processor in Bauchi state, Nigeria, describes how she lost profits by using a less efficient rice parboiling method she had applied. Yet, through the risk management training that Umar received, she decided to take a risk by adding half a bag of rice to be sold in addition to the usual bag that she sells at the market. “You see that is a risk I am taking because I want to see how it will turn out,” Abu said.
As both women have demonstrated, taking small risks can lead to greater benefits. Through the training sessions, both women have learned about the importance of managing risk in their businesses. A training manual developed in Hausa (a major language in Northern Nigeria) was distributed among the women participants to provide further learning and improve their business performance.