Ask any entrepreneur where he would prefer to sell his products and he will be quick to reply you that the best place to take such a product is the export market. This is because apart from earning foreign exchange, there is a goodwill that goes with the international acceptability of a particular product.
Exporting can be very rewarding in numerous ways. By selling your products and services in other markets, you spread your risks and reduce dependence on the Nigerian market alone.
You are also able to increase your sales, productivity and become more efficient. Becoming an exporter also provides a platform to generate fresh ideas, new ways of doing business, and marketing techniques, among others.
At a time when the government is implementing various measures to boost non-oil exports, experts said this has provided entrepreneurs with a platform to key into the economic diversification policy of government.
The Executive Director, Nigeria Export Promotion Council, Mr Segun Awolowo said the government was targeting to grow the country’s non-oil export revenue from $1.2bn in 2016 to $8bn next year.
This, he stated, would be achieved through the zero to export initiative which is one of the programmes of the NEPC that focuses on creating a new generation of Nigerian exporters through practical and theoretical training of business executives, bankers, civil servants and unemployed graduates among others in export business.
The programme is anchored on a Public Private Partnership arrangement with support from Deposit Money Banks, the Bank of Industry and the Nigerian Export-Import Bank.
He said, “The zero to export programme is aimed at achieving specific objectives which include development of new exporters from zero knowledge to a point of export readiness, equipping exporters using practical hand -holding approach, field training and mentorship to build a new crop of indigenous exporters.
“The council’s zero oil plan is the flagship programme aimed at mobilising public and private resources towards replacing oil as the number one source of foreign exchange.
“The programme equally has a vision of growing non-oil exports from $1.2bn in 2016 to $8bn in 2019 and eventually $25bn by 2025.”
But where does an entrepreneur start from to becoming an exporter? Experts said there are some basic steps that an intending exporter must follow to be able to take advantage of the export market.
Some of them are export readiness, e- registration, understanding the market, and export plan among others.
An exporter, Mr Isaac Babatunde, said that there must be full willingness and commitment on the part the entrepreneur to export his products.
He said, “When you want to export from Nigeria, you are obliged to register at NEPC. Registering as an exporter will give you several additional benefits. You can only register as an exporter through the e-registration platform. This page presents all the information you need to know about obtaining an Exporter’s Certificate from NEPC.”
Besides the fact that one needs an exporter’s certificate for exports, he said registering at NEPC “gives a lot of additional advantages.”
Some of these advantages are the availability to trade promotion support services from NEPC, ability to request NEPC administered export incentives and the platform to exchange ideas through a network of exporters.
He also said there was a need for an entrepreneur to acquaint himself with the basic guidelines and procedures for export market.
He added, “Before you can proceed and register as an exporter, you have to take some preparations. There are documents required for completing the full registration process. The required documents depend on your type of company, whether it’s a limited liability company profile or a cooperative.
“When you have all the documents at hand you can start the registration procedure on the e-registration portal. Register at the portal, log in and start the e-registration for exporters. Include all requested documents in your registration.”
Obtaining an exporter’s certificate involves some costs. Findings show that different charges apply for different situations. For instance, figures from the NEPC show that new certificate registration attracts a fee of N13,500, while expired certificate renewal goes for N7,500.
For late certificate renewal, the fee is put at N12,500 while mutilated/lost certificate attract the sum of N12,500.
Experts also said there was a need for an entrepreneur to understand the dynamics of the export market before one could venture into export business.
They said to develop an export business into a success, an exporter miust understand the target market. This, they stated could be achieved by conducting research on the export destination.
Such research, according to them allows the entrepreneur to evaluate market opportunities with a view to determining the cost of capturing them.
Good market research should not be an academic way of only embedding assembled facts and figures. It rather has to focus on what drives your target market and how to get the best out of it.
According to NEPC, there is need to gather basic market information, from import regulations to trade statistics through the use of market analysis tools.
There is also the need to narrow the focus of the market research to the product or service. This will make the whole process more specific.
Also, experts contend that the need to research competitor markets as being vital to penetrating the export market.
This involves finding out what they are doing right and how they are doing it.
After the research, experts said the next step “is the export plan which would describe what differentiates an entrepreneur from his competitors.”
Babatunde urged entrepreneurs to always develop an export plan that would guide them seamlessly through different export processes.
This, he noted, “helps when such entrepreneurs come in contact with financial advisers, brokers and governmental agencies.”
“A well-written export plan will assist you in defining export goals and match your resources to those goals.”