The retail market in Nigeria consisting of micro businesses is worth over 100 billion dollars, reports have revealed. This sector makes up 50 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP), making it the major source of economic growth, productivity, and competitiveness.
However, this market is with its own challenges as it is clustered, with products often overpriced because prices are largely unregulated.
Existent are the challenges of adulterated goods, excessive intermediaries, and the long distances some retailers cover to get to the market, especially those in hard-to-reach locations.
With growing digital technology, B2B e-commerce operators are rising to these challenges by empowering micro businesses to grow and maximise profits.
Through their digital platform, retailers buy consumable goods at manufacturers’ and authorised distributors rates and even those goods are freely delivered. These automatically save them stress, time and money of having to shop from the open markets.
Micro business owners are guaranteed genuine goods through the services of B2B e-commerce companies like Alerzo for example.
This is even made easier for them as they can use their mobile Apps and websites, e.g. Alerzoshop, which allows retailers to order goods and get the goods delivered directly to them. Furthermore, they do not have to spend time for business and profit-making on the road to visit the open market for restocking when they get their goods ordered from Alerzoshop.
This has resulted in 85 percent of retailers reducing their two to four times a week restock trips to zero.
The micro business owners have eliminated intermediaries that usually contribute to excessive pricing of goods, as they are sure of buying at the manufacturers’ or legal distributors’ rate when they use Alerzoshop.
Through AlerzoPay, a digital payment and fintech platform for first and third party transactions, retailers no longer have to face the risk of moving around with heavy cash, as it is the case with retailers who shop from open markets.
Also with Alerzo logistics, micro business owners get their goods delivered without making any payments. Meanwhile, in less than four years of its existence, Alerzo, the B2B e-commerce business founded by Adewale Opaleye which focuses on supplying much-needed products to retailers, by sourcing products from manufacturers based on orders from customers has improved the profitability of over 80,000 retail owners.
The firm’s ecosystem of digital product consists of Alerzoshop – mobile App and website that allow retailers to order goods; AlerzoPay – digital payment and fintech platform for first and third party transactions; Alerzo Logistics – end to end logistics service: from first mile to last mile (delivery to retailers).
Largely, there is hope for micro businesses as the e-commerce businesses are passionate about empowering a broad community of micro businesses across the country, with the securing of right investments and partners. They assure continued engagement with governments and regulatory authorities to find the best solutions to challenges in the micro business environments.
Cybercrime is Spiking and Security Skills are Scarce
The world generates an estimated 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day.
Amidst this mind-boggling amount of chatter, a very real threat is lurking: cybercrime, which has increased by 600 percent since the start of the pandemic, the United Nations reports.
This surge in nefarious cyber activity kicked off when global lockdowns saw millions of employees working remotely and logging in from their unsecured home computers.
According to the Fortinet Global Threat Landscape Report, 80 percent of organisations experienced one or more data breaches during 2021, with a tenfold increase in ransomware attacks alone.
Patrick Evans, chief executive officer of SLVA Cybersecurity, said that cyber threats are increasing at a rate far greater than the industry is able to cope with, and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are particularly vulnerable as the financial impact falling victim to these security breaches can result in their total collapse.
A sobering thought when you consider that 43 percent of cyberattacks are aimed at small businesses, according to Accentures Cost of Cybercrime Study, and only 14 percent are adequately prepared to defend themselves.
As the business landscape rapidly evolves, simply keeping abreast of technology advancements and security vulnerabilities is no longer enough, Evans warned.
Data breach risks need to be managed strategically, and this requires a very specific skill set. Previously CIOs and CTOs were expected to take data security into their fold, but if anything is clear from the increasing threats in recent years, it is that there is a need for a separate security role, he states.
The importance of a CISO
This is where a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) comes in, and business owners are starting to realise the importance of this role in their organisations. Even if a company has an accomplished and technically skilled team on board, utilising the services of an advisor with decades of experience on how to mitigate the risks and implement up-to-date security measures is invaluable, says Evans.
Not all organisations, however, have the budget or even the need for a full-time CISO, and there is currently a shortage of skilled cybersecurity professionals.
The answer to this is a virtual or fractional CISO an outsourced security practitioner who, drawing on a wealth of experience in the cybersecurity industry, can provide valuable insight, advice and mentorship to help prevent an attack or recover from one, usually part-time and remotely.
Evans outlined some of the challenges facing organisations and how a virtual CISO can help:
Cyberthreats are increasing rapidly
There is a huge increase in the number of threats facing organisations, with ransomware becoming increasingly more prevalent.
The LexisNexis True Cost of Fraud Study reports that cyberfraud in South Africa has increased by 41.5 percent since 2019, and new data from Mimecast’s State of Email Security 2022 report found that 60 percent of South African organisations had suffered a ransomware attack in 2021, up from 47 percent in 2020.
Ransomware does not select the type of company that is attacked; it looks for the weakest attack surfaces. SMEs, educational institutions, and those in manufacturing and other verticals are often the subjects of the most severe attacks, which can be financially crippling. This is partly because these industries have been slow to adopt a security-first approach or do not have the funds to onboard a full-time information security officer. Its a catch-22 situation. The most vulnerable are the ones who do not have the resources to adequately protect and mitigate attacks, says Evans.
Financial impacts are severe
The financial impact of falling victim to a cybercrime, especially as an SME, can be devastating.
The average cost of recovering from a ransomware attack is approximately USD$1.85 million, according to research from cybersecurity firm Sophos. Businesses, especially small and medium ones, can ill-afford such an attack.
According to Evans, Cyberattacks do not simply take down a website. They can completely shut down business processes and, worse still, hold a companys entire IP or customer database for ransom.
The result is a complete shutdown in order to recover the business, and the added risk of penalties and fines from regulators as a result of data protection laws. In many instances, these risks are not quantified nor are there adequate risk mitigation and recovery procedures put in place.
Many times, it is a tick-box exercise without ongoing processes to ensure continued compliance and protection.
Shortage of skills
There is a dire shortage of cybersecurity skills globally. Fortinet reports that 60 percent of organisations struggle to recruit cybersecurity talent, and South African skills are at an all-time low, with many CISOs leaving for lucrative opportunities abroad. Combine the increase in cybercrime with the shortage in cyber skills, and we have a perfect storm brewing.
The answer? A virtual or fractional CISO
Fortunately, there is a solution. Virtual or fractional CISOs (vCISOs) provide those that need it most with solutions to fit their needs and budget and go several steps further than simply box-ticking.
SLVA Cybersecurity offers this service to SMEs and other businesses that have neither the need nor the funds for a full-time security officer.
These virtual CISOs are industry veterans and offer expert advice for a fraction of the cost, shares Evans.
SLVA works with customers to develop fit-for-purpose, fit-for-budget solutions, ensuring that they receive exactly the CISO service they need to remain on top of the industrys most pressing challenges, no matter their size or budget.
There are different CISOs for different purposes. Together with my co-founders, Steve Jump and Andrew Odendaal, each with over 20 years experience in the information and cybersecurity industries, we identified the different CISO roles that organisations typically need.
Interim vCISO: Your organisation may require an acting vCISO while you source someone new for the role. The interim vCISO can fix urgent issues and put in an action plan to take your company to the next level of cyber resilience. They can also assist in finding a suitable full-time CISO.
Shadow vCISO: If you have decided to employ someone with only a few years experience and grow your own CISO, a shadow vCISO can be provided to nurture and groom the unseasoned employee.
Mentor vCISO: If you are worried about your companys current security function, you can hire an industry expert to coach and mentor your current CISO or CIO.
Post-compromise vCISO: After an attack or security breach, you may need to bring in someone with extensive, post-compromise recovery experience to help you deal with the aftermath while your CISO carries on with business as usual. A post-compromise vCISO, who has weathered many breaches, including ransomware, can offer invaluable assistance.
Abounding Investment Opportunities in the E-commerce Value Chain
B2B platforms like Alerzo are changing the Nigerian retail market narrative by presenting the attractive investment opportunities therein to the world.
The federal government recently revealed the improving impact of e-commerce on the country’s economy, saying the current e-commerce spending in Nigeria has grown to $13billion per annum and expected to reach $75billion in revenue per annum by 2025.
Expressing passion about the growing investment opportunities in the e-commerce value chain, which are capable of contributing significantly to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the federal government also said e-commerce grew in Nigeria from 14% in 2019 to 17% in 2020.
Alerzo’s technology-based market penetration helps in reaching people beyond the urban settlements to rural areas and giving them access to extensive catalogue of products, in addition to free delivery. The leading e-commerce platform also facilitates development and financial inclusion through digital payment platforms.
For instance, Alerzo, through AlerzoPay, is contributing to the development of dematerialized payment solutions which are key to the success of e-commerce and an important asset for Nigeria when it comes to development prospects.
By their business models, B2B e-commerce platforms are a chain of activities that open up economic opportunities such as job creation, financial inclusion and technology advancement, as Adewale Opaleye, Alerzo’s Chief Executive Officer, made known that Alerzo directly employs more than 3,000 people in its operational chain.
B2B e-commerce platforms also allow local retailers to improve their businesses and become profitable and thus enable them to hire more staff to support their production and/or distribution activities.
Beware of Scammers, Konga Warns Customers and Public
The management of Konga, Nigeria’s leading composite e-commerce giant, has raised the alarm over the activities of suspected fraudsters using its brand name to scam unsuspecting victims, even as it cautioned the public and its customers to remain alert to the antics of these unscrupulous con artists.
The warning comes amid revelations that some individuals have recently been targeted by the scammers.
Notably, Konga has flagged a malicious website – https://kongahome.com/- being used by the fraudsters to rip off their victims after artfully convincing them to make payments into a fake merchant account for a task, VIP privileges or for the purposes of receiving some benefits.
Investigations also reveal that in other cases, the scammers rely on phoney letters purportedly from the Philippine National Bank, while also illegally using the Konga logo on some letters written to their victims.
However, in a disclaimer already being circulated by Konga, the e-commerce giant has called on the public to exercise extra vigilance in order not to fall prey to these gimmicks, while also urging them to report any suspicious activities through the company’s official customer service channels.
‘‘We have recently been made aware of a few incidents where suspected scammers attempt to leverage our reputation and the trust reposed in us by our customers to carry out various fraudulent activities. Please, keep your eyes open and beware of scammers and their antics. Konga will NEVER ask you to pay money into any merchant account. There is no such thing as Merchant Task payment or VIP in Konga.
Also, we are currently not having a 9th Anniversary Sale, as touted by some of these scammers. Konga is 10 this year and we are celebrating our customers with a 10th Anniversary Sale. This campaign kicked off on Monday, June 27 and will run through July 10, 2022 exclusively on our platforms.
‘‘Please note that our only official website is www.konga.com and news or updates on any of our promotions or special offers/incentives/freebies for customers will be shared via our website and our social media pages.
“Our social media handle is @shopkonga on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, while for LinkedIn, it is Konga Group.
‘‘Please, do not hesitate to report any fraudulent or suspicious activities through our official customer care channels.
“You can send us an email at [email protected] Call us on 07080635700, 08094605555, 018883435 or send us a WhatsApp message via https://wa.me/2348094605555.
‘‘We remain committed to our mission of creating a trusted and vibrant retail ecosystem that facilitates trade across Africa, while living up to our status as the e-commerce group you trust,’’ the disclaimer read in part.
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