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SME Guide

Surviving Nigeria’s Current Challenges: Advice from Experts

Nigeria is currently facing numerous challenges socially, economically, and politically. With high unemployment, inflation, insecurity, and other issues, many Nigerians are finding it difficult to thrive amidst the turbulence. This article provides expert advice on how to survive and even flourish during these tough times in Nigeria.

Maintaining financial stability

Money issues are one of the biggest worries for many Nigerians nowadays. With the rising cost of living and stagnant wages, making ends meet can be a real struggle. Experts recommend the following strategies to achieve financial stability even in harsh economic conditions:

Budgeting and cutting costs

  • Track your income and expenses to get a clear picture of your cash flow. Identify areas where you can cut down on unnecessary spending through budgeting apps or Excel spreadsheets.
  • Reduce expenses on non-essential items like luxury goods, eating out frequently, subscribing to multiple streaming services, etc. Prioritise needs over wants.
  • Look for ways to get goods and services for less. Compare prices online, buy in bulk, and use coupons and loyalty programs.
  • Move to a smaller living space or get a roommate to split costs if rent or accommodations are too high.

Exploring side hustles

  • Consider freelancing in your area of expertise to earn extra income.
  • Sell unused items around the house on classifieds sites and Facebook marketplaces.
  • Start a small business, like home baking, jewellery making, clothing alterations, or gardening services, leveraging your skills.
  • Sign up for task services like delivery driving, writing, virtual assistance, etc.

Growing Emergency Savings

  • Build up a cash reserve of 3-6 months for living expenses in case of income loss or emergencies. Save incrementally if you can’t make a lump sum.
  • Keep savings in an account you can access quickly, not investments. Focus on liquidity.
  • Reduce reliance on loans and credit for the basics. Pay off high-interest debts first if you have them.
  • Look into government or nonprofit programmes for financial assistance if you are eligible.

Safeguarding physical safety

Crime levels in parts of Nigeria have surged, requiring vigilance. These tips can help enhance personal and family security:

Home and Neighbourhood Security

  • Install CCTV cameras, alarm systems, and sensors, and reinforce doors and windows. Avoid obvious signs of wealth.
  • Form or join a community neighbourhood watch programme for greater security. Collaborate with neighbours.
  • Ensure good lighting on streets and known trouble spots. Report non-functioning lights.
  • Don’t isolate yourself. Create a support network locally and share information on any threats.

Situational Awareness

  • Stay alert and aware of the environment when out. Avoid being distracted by phones or headphones.
  • Choose busy, well-lit routes if walking or driving at night. Keep valuables out of sight.
  • Research any unfamiliar areas beforehand, if possible. Note police stations and safe zones.
  • Trust your instincts if a place or person feels unsafe. Leave promptly and discreetly.

Self-Defence Preparedness

  • Take self-defence classes to gain confidence and learn techniques for protecting yourself if needed.
  • Carry personal alarms or other legal self-defence tools like pepper spray when out alone.
  • Avoid potentially dangerous situations as much as possible. Don’t engage or resist attackers unless there is no other option.

Maintaining Health and Wellbeing

Physical and mental health may suffer during times of prolonged tension and uncertainty. Here’s how to care for yourself and your loved ones:

Accessing affordable healthcare

  • Use Primary Healthcare Centres for routine care over pricier hospitals when feasible. Join a local health programme.
  • Buy medication and medical supplies in bulk when possible. Compare pharmacy prices using apps. Consider substitutes.
  • Look into health insurance options like NHIS, community schemes, and employer policies to reduce costs.

Adopting healthy habits

  • Eat nutritious home-cooked meals, exercise regularly, and get sufficient sleep to cope with stress better.
  • Limit unhealthy habits like smoking, excessive alcohol, drugs, and junk food. They compound problems.
  • Spend time outdoors, socialise, and help others. Maintain a work-life balance. Pursue hobbies.
  • Practice relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation, and deep breathing to reduce anxiety.

Accessing mental health support

  • Reach out to trusted loved ones, the community, and religious leaders for counselling and reassurance.
  • Consider online or in-person therapy from professionals to manage conditions like depression.
  • Join local support groups to share struggles and advice. Don’t underestimate small daily self-care rituals.

Overcoming the scarcity of resources

Fuel, electricity, and other basics are often in short supply. These conservation methods can help:

Managing fuel shortages

  • Organise errands to avoid unnecessary car trips. Walk, bike, or take public transport when possible. Carpool if driving.
  • Keep vehicles well-maintained, tyres inflated, and driven efficiently to optimise mileage.

Coping with Power Cuts

  • Limit the use of heavy appliances like AC that strain the grid. Cook in batches to use generators sparingly.
  • Install solar panels and inverters if possible. Gas lamps and solar lights also help. Store charge banks and power packs.
  • Keep phones and devices charged whenever electricity is available, even for short periods.
  • Plan activities that don’t require electricity during cuts, like board games, reading, cleaning, etc.

Conserving Water Resources

  • Report broken pipes and leaks promptly. Install water-saving taps and showerheads.
  • Reuse washing up, bathing, and cooking water for cleaning and gardening where hygienic.
  • Take shorter showers. Don’t leave taps running unnecessarily.

Growing Your Own Food

  • Plant a backyard, balcony, or window box veggie garden. Focus on staples like tomatoes, onions, and peppers.
  • Look into joining community gardens or schemes supporting urban farming.
  • Learn preservation techniques like solar drying, pickling, jam-making, and canning to stock up during harvests.

Staying positive and purposeful

Maintaining motivation during turbulent times can be a challenge. These mindset tips can help:

Cultivating resilience and optimism

  • Focus on controlling what is within your power. Let go of the rest. Celebrate small daily wins.
  • Reframe the situation as temporary. This too shall pass. Visualise future goals.
  • Balance negative news consumption with uplifting content. Spend time in nature.
  • Help others who are also going through difficulty. Social support breeds hope.

Discovering Meaning and Purpose

  • Identify meaningful goals beyond just survival—learning, creating, volunteering, etc.
  • Spiritual practices like prayer and meditation can offer comfort and perspective.
  • Find inspiration in the stories of others who overcame their challenges. You have reserves too.
  • Look at hardships as an opportunity to discover strengths. Each day I survive is an achievement.

By employing these practical strategies, Nigerians can better navigate the current challenges. While the turbulence is expected to continue for some time, maintaining community support, a positive outlook, and resourcefulness will go a long way. This too shall pass, as better days will come again.

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