About 90 percent of rural Nigerians rely on farming for their livelihood. So it is devastating for a family to have to mortgage their land – their source of food and income. Four years ago, Edidiong James Akpan (pictured below) and his family had to mortgage their land in order to buy food and meet their basic needs. Edidiong (22 years old), his sisters Nkereke (20) and Ufante (14), and his parents live together in the rural village of Mbiaso in southern Nigeria, which lacks electricity, running water, decent roads.
Edidiong and his sisters go house to house to buy coconuts for resale.
Without the family land, Edidiong was anxious to start the business in order to get enough money to buy their farm back in time for them to cultivate the land during the next farming season. Ofonime Nkoko, SIA Small Business Fund Coordinator in Nigeria, met Edidiong at the local CFO International camp in Nigeria and he assessed that Edidiong’s family would be eligible for a SBF grant since, without a job and land to grow food, they were among the poorest of the poor in their village.
A Business is Born
In December 2011, Ofonime invited Edidiong, Nkereke, and Ufante, to attend a Spirit in Action SBF business training session. After the training they received their initial $100 grant and started a new business, Edidiong’s Coconuts.
Edidiong and his two sisters go from house to house to buy coconuts from the families. They then put them in bags and bring them to market. Each week Edidiong travels over 50 miles down dusty, pot-holed roads to sell their coconuts for a premium at the large Ariaria Market in Aba, Nigeria.
The initial grant helped the group buy their first coconuts and pay for Edidiong’s trip to market. After three months in business, Edidiong’s Coconuts earned $72 in net profit and they were able to buy more tools and save for future growth. But even more thrilling, the family has been able to redeem the land that was mortgaged years ago! With their land back, Edidiong, Nkereke, Ufante, and their parents will be able to plant food to keep the family fed throughout the year.
“I prayed and waited and finally I kick started my dream business,” shares Edidiong, thrilled at their success. “Paramount is that we have our land back. We can eat fine, and I am sure in four years I will return back to school [university]. Thank you Spirit in Action. Thank you all. God bless you all.”
Indeed, thank you to all those who support the Spirit in Action Small Business Fund!