Stories by Bimbola Oyesola
Ever wondered what profitable business you can venture into in this recession when access to foreign exchange remains a great challenge? One of the products banned by the Federal Government under former President Olusegun Obasanjo was toothpick.
As at the end of 2009, the total annual importation of toothpicks ran into about N800 million. The Federal Government then, as part of the efforts to encourage local production and save foreign exchange, took such commendable initiative, more so when the product can easily be manufactured locally.
Toothpick production is an interesting business that attracts huge demand. Despite its small size, it’s a business that has high yield return on investment.
In the past two years, assessing foreign exchange for raw materials and production machines has been a major problem for manufacturers, but as an entrepreneur in this line of business, you are shielded. This is because you can practically source all you need for your production locally. The beauty of it is that you can also earn forex for the country by exporting to other neighbouring countries.
Toothpicks are used both for homes, restaurants, fast food joints, hotels and travel industry. This is one of the profitable ventures that one can invest into considering that the raw materials, labour, technology and market for the products are locally available.
The relevant raw materials to produce quality toothpicks are 100 per cent locally available, handy all the year round and very cheap. This then implies that any investment into this line of production will produce at optimal capacity and in no distant time, the initial invested funds will be recouped.
Toothpick production is one of the commonly overlooked, but very (100 per cent) profitable businesses that anyone can venture into.
So far, investigations reveal that market for toothpicks not only exist, but is expanding and sustainable with the growing daily use of toothpicks.
Raw materials for making them are either wood or bamboo, plastic containers (with the company’s logo printed on the plastic container or printed labels), can easily be obtained in the country, which is a great advantage to this venture.
There is complete assurance of regular supply of raw materials, steady production, enhanced production capacity and profitability. In this age of technology, you can also decide if you want to produce plastic toothpicks. Below are further break down of the steps involved in starting up the business.
The importance of business plan cannot be overemphasised. Even if the structure of the business and the market seem very simple, you cannot rule out the essential of a business plan. A business plan not only helps you plan well for the business, but also helps you stay focused after starting the business so that you can achieve your goals within the shortest time possible.
Your business plan will highlight the projected costs of starting and running the business, the target market and its growth potential, the competition, and many other valuable pieces of information that will help you make well-informed business decisions in the short and long terms. You can add a feasibility study targeted at your immediate community and competitors. The plan is important because it provides a blueprint of how to proceed.
Register your business with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) either as a sole proprietorship, which is a one-man business model or a limited liability company. Other permits to look into are Value Added Tax (VAT), ISO certification, environmental and pollution guidelines, NAFDAC, among others.
Your business guide will give you insight into how much you need to start the business and keep it going after its launch. If you cannot afford all the money required, secure funding from trade, merchant or commercial banks. The funds are needed for machinery, leasing space, marketing and sourcing raw materials.
Bank loans require good credit rating, and collateral such as landed property. Try to approach associations and cooperatives that offer loans to members. Try government loan schemes for small business owners. You can ask your friends and family for soft loans.
Capital investment includes fixed capital for landed property and machinery, while working capital is meant for staff wages, raw materials, utility bills and marketing.
The rule of thumb regarding any business is that it should be located as closely as possible to the target market and the source of raw materials. Hence, it is important to set up your toothpick production company where there are many hotels, restaurants, and other places where the commodity is used in large quantities. All these will reduce transportation costs and haulage.
To produce toothpicks, you need a factory space for your machinery and production process. You can lease a small warehouse with a store front to reach customers, or rather you can save cost if you have some space in your house.
It is important that the raw material for the production is available in large quantity so that the process would not be frustrated midway. Raw material for production of toothpick is wood and this wood is bamboo wood or any other hard wood and plastic containers (for packing the finished products). To be on the safe side, you must find two or three suppliers for each raw material you will need. This way, you will not be forced to pause production when a supplier runs out of materials.
For the plastic toothpick, the plastic material (plastic granules) is used for plastic toothpicks. You can easily source hardwood from wood markets in your area. To produce plastic toothpicks, melt thermoplastic material in an injection speed and pressure machine. Once cooled through the cyclic process, remove before packaging and labeling.
There are machines for both small and large scale toothpick manufacturers. Buy high quality standardised machines to produce quality toothpicks. Besides, substandard equipment will not only affect the quality of your products, but the cost of repairing them too often can also have a long term crippling effect on your business.
The machines are both locally available and imported machinery. A toothpick production business requires equipment such as splitting, polishing, and sharpening machines. Others include dust collector and packing machine. It goes without saying that you will need to acquire these equipment before you can start your toothpick production business.
While you have the option of importing your toothpick making machines, you can have them made locally without any compromise on quality and efficiency.
For the plastic toothpick, you have semi-automatic and automatic injection molding machines. The automatic injection molding machines is more effective, precise and reduces production time.
Apart from the injection molding machine, you need scrap grinders, mold lifters and color mixers. Other machinery is packaging machines, molds and weight scale.
Your staff strength depends on the scale of your production. You might need machine operators, driver for delivery and supplies and sales representatives.
A List of Machinery used to Produce Toothpicks
· Weighing Scales
· A Variety of Molds
· Scrap Grinding Machine
· Automated and Semi Automated machine
· Dry color mixer
· Packaging machine
· Mold lifting Machine. Polishing, sharpening machine
7. Hire staff and start production:
In addition, you will need to hire a few more individuals to work with you. The number of people you will hire depends on the quantity of production. You will need people to handle each task involved in the production process.
8. Branding, packaging and marketing
Branding involves creating a distinct feature for your product that will stand it apart from the crowd. This involves making the packaging attractive.
Tooth pick are packaged in small light plastic containers.
For the marketing really, you need little effort, but if you want to sell more and have a quick turn over, then marketing is essential.
You need to network with consumers of your product. Major consumers are hotels, restaurants, fast food outfits and local eateries.
You will also need to adopt some effective marketing strategies to attract customers. Such strategies include reducing your prices slightly while not reducing quality. This will help you “snatch” some customers off the competition. Actively seek supply contracts for your products or focus on export market.
Advertise your products through electronic and print medium. Other advertisement channels are Facebook advertisements, Google adsense and your own website or blog.
Hire sales representatives to work on commission per sale.
As stated earlier, tooth pick production is a very lucrative business that an entrepreneur will not regret venturing into. It has a very short payback period of between 1-2 years, with almost 100 percent return on investment.
Entrepreneurial skills’ll reduce unemployment
By Charles Nwaoguji
The Vice President and Chairperson of Women’s Group of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Mrs. Adenike Agnes Shobajo, has said entrepreneurial skills will help Nigerian youths to advance technologically.
Shobajo, who stated this at the press briefing on the forthcoming Nigeria Teen Choice Award (NTCA) 2017, held recently in Lagos, noted that if the teenagers and the youths are encouraged to acquire entrepreneurial skills, it will reduce employment in the country.
She noted that in 2013, report shows that Nigeria had the highest level of school dropouts, most of which were teenagers. She observed that the only way to help these school dropouts was to train them to be entrepreneurially skilled.
She said the award was aimed at catching them young by recognising, encouraging and rewarding outstanding teens/youths and personalities who have made positive impact in their various fields of endeavour.
“We know that our teens are very energetic and talented, and if such energy isn’t channeled properly, they lose focus and drive,” she added.
She stated that NTCA would use the opportunity to shine a light on those who are productive, creative and also showcase their out-standing talents and potential to the world.
Also speaking at the event, the Public Relation Strategist of Nelz Global Concept Limited, official organiser of the award, Mr. Victor Atewe, said NTCA is a brand initiative of the company committed to the development and discovery of creative talents among Nigerian/African teenagers and youths for the good of our society.
He said, “in this year’s award, we intend to create an opportunity for diverse talents to be showcased and rewarded. We are raising the bar with our four unique pre-event activities, some with cash rewards for the winners.”
He said the award would feature kick the ball, nationwide essay competition, NTCA theme song and charity walk. “There will be a business talk from players on how to positively utilise online opportunities for genuine purposes,” he said.
He pointed out that it is an annual event that began in 2012 and has since held five successful editions to celebrate and encourage deserving teeenagers and personalities in various categories, including music, lifestyle, media, movies, education, fashion innovation, among others.
He explained that over 300 awards have been given, with 40 top celebrity awardees including Seyi Shey, Korede Bello, Davido, Praiz, Tekno, Burna Boy, Denrele, Yungsix, Lil Kesh, to mention a few, having graced the NTCA stage.
Buyers beware: SON raises the alarm over killer tyres
The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has raised an alert to users of automobile tyres nationwide on the need to be extra cautious when making purchases of such products.
The Director General, Osita Aboloma, stated that the agency has uncovered a dangerous trend by some tyre importers and dealers tampering with the date of manufacture to deceive consumers.
Aboloma disclosed this at the inspection of the huge consignments of tyres seized from various locations across the country.
According to him, information from a sister government security agency as well as complaints from consumers and interception of containers on the highways have assisted SON to uncover the ungodly act of some unpatriotic Nigerians in their bid to make profit at the expense of the lives of their fellow citizens.
The SON boss noted that dates of manufacture unscripted on tyres were being altered to deceive consumers that the tyres have longer life span with a view to making excessive profits, thereby putting the lives of users in danger.
He advised Nigerians to pay greater attention to the inscription of dates of manufacture on tyres to be able to discover those that may have been altered and report such to SON promptly.
The dates, according to him, are usually in four numerical digits indicating month and year of manufacture.
He advised tyre users to henceforth demand that dealers indicate the dates of manufacture of the tyres on receipts whenever they are making purchases to make them liable for whatever they sell and further promote consumer protection.
He noted that SON has impounded a large consignment of substandard products valued at about N800 million at different locations, urging the importers to desist from stuffing in tyres to avoid damage.
The SON boss emphasised that stuffing of tyres automatically destroys the tyres on arrival and that allowing such products in the country amounted to giving Nigerians tyres to destroy their lives.
He said technically, stuffing unnecessarily expands the tyres or unduly compresses them, bend the wires round the tyre helms, and create sharp points, making them vulnerable to bursts on slight contacts, saying this should not be encouraged.
“I want to reiterate that there is no hiding place for those who deal in substandard products as they would be caught and their products confiscated.
“Nothing can be recouped from such stuffed in tyre, no need to test anything because the tyres have already been destroyed on arrival, ” he said
Responding to the question of what the federal government was doing concerning Asian countries where much of the substandard products come from; he said the matter was being handled at the highest diplomatic level, expressing the optimism that the desired result would be got at the end of the day.