Omilola Oshikoya: Recession and Other Global Crisis of 2023 (Part 2)
In the previous installation of this series, I mentioned that there’s good news amidst the global threat of recession. The good news is that while everything goes gloomy, there would be opportunities for wealth creation. It all depends on your mindset.
Let me give you two practical examples of two institutions: Procter and Gamble and Quaker Oats.
Procter and Gamble (P&G)
During the Great Depression of 1929-1939, while many companies suffered, Procter and Gamble came out stronger. They thought that even during the depression, people would still need soap. Therefore instead of cutting down the costs on things like advertising, they pursued new marketing avenues like commercial radio broadcasts. They sponsored daily radio series aimed at women, particularly homemakers, which was the company’s main market. They debuted their first series hosted by a widow and the country fell in love with her stories. By 1939, they had 21 radio shows and they pioneered the very first “soap opera”. The name “soap opera” was established because of Procter and Gamble.
Lesson: Create something that people will need and spend money on even in economic recessions.
Henry Parsons Crowell, the founder of Quaker Oats, has a lot of remarkable stories, but I’ll share the one about the depression of 1893.
He bought a Quaker mill at the time when oats were served to horses but he saw that rolled oats could become part of America’s breakfast table. It is reported that he struggled in business but as a Christian, he brought his problems to the Lord and then an idea came to him. Before, oats were sold in barrels and kept on the floor in grocery stores which attracted worms and insects. He got the idea to put the oats in a cardboard container that would be on the shelves of grocery stores.
During the depression, his vision was to position Quaker Oats as affordable nutritious alternatives for housewives to feed their families instead of beef. He invested in advertising when 15,000 other businesses went bankrupt, and many were cutting back. He also put billboards on train box cars. He also pioneered the use of celebrity endorsements. He didn’t bother going to salespeople which were typically used to sell products. Instead, he focused on going straight to the consumer so that they would request the products from the grocery stores.
There are some other recent examples.
Big tech companies like Zoom, Amazon, and Google expanded and increased their revenues during the recession in 2020. During the global lockdown, people needed a place to meet their colleagues virtually for work, and Zoom was the perfect product. People needed to shop and buy food virtually and Amazon was the perfect product. Schools needed to teach students remotely so products like Google Classrooms were the perfect product.
Before the pandemic, products like Google Classroom and Zoom were used just by a few people but the numbers grew during the pandemic. These products are now remodifying our habits and approach to things. People are now more digitally inclined.
There was a deal I was working on with a global financial institution before the pandemic hit. We lost momentum when it hit. I approached them again recently and we scheduled a meeting. The meeting was held with me in their fancy office like before but now it was done virtually. I could have gone to their office because we’re in the same country but these things have changed us.
- Have vision and foresight.
- Be a pioneer and do not be afraid of your crazy dreams.
- Success is when preparation meets opportunity. Zoom’s founder already had the structure in place to take advantage of the opportunity that the pandemic created. If he had started during the pandemic, he would have lost the opportunity.
- Find out what people need.
- Don’t be afraid to create an entirely new market that doesn’t already exist for your startup.
- When you are sure of your target market, invest in targeting them.
Where is the money in this global economic situation?
For people in the diaspora, contrary to what the World Bank predicts, I believe for emerging markets like countries in Africa, it is a great opportunity to create wealth. Africa is the next frontier. Let us look at some statistics in the Google and IFC e-Conomy Africa 2020 report.
- The World Bank believes that by 2100, one in three people will be living in Africa. Nigeria in particular would be the third largest country on the planet with a population of one billion according to the United Nations.
- Africa has the world’s youngest, fastest growing and increasingly urbanised workforce contributing to economic growth. About 60% of the population is under 25.
- GDP in Africa grew by 4% per year between 2010 and 2019 more than twice that of EU 28 (1.7%) and Latin America of (17.%) in the same period.
- By 2030, Africa is expected to be home to over 1.7 billion consumers with total consumer expenditure expected to be $2.5 trillion.
- The internet economy has the potential to contribute up to $180 billion to Africa’s GDP by 2025.
- Nineteen of the top 20 countries in the world are in Africa.
Asides from technology, there are other sectors to look into for great opportunities to create wealth. There are agriculture, education, healthcare, tourism and others. People in the diaspora can either invest in or come home to set up startups and businesses for wealth-creation opportunities in these sectors.
For Nigerians (and other Africans) in the continent, you no longer need to relocate in order to earn foreign exchange. You can earn foreign exchange in your country by plugging into the global value chain (GVC). According to Science Direct, GVCs refer to international production sharing, a phenomenon which breaks production into activities and tasks in different countries. In simple terms, you have to divide activities among workers and companies across different countries to bring a product from concept to the end user. There is a high demand for global services jobs, especially in sectors such as software development and the ICT sector.
According to the PWC Nigerian Brain Exports report, in 2021, there were 26.8 million active software developers globally and the projected number by 2023 would be 45 million (68% increase). As of 2020, there were only about 700,000 software developers in Africa. This means the addition of 18.2 million new jobs in just 10 years. According to the same report, a junior software developer earns between $27,500 and $132,000 per year. This is an opportunity to earn foreign exchange. You can become a software developer and earn forex without leaving Nigeria or even invest in a company that trains software developers.
Animation and gaming are other ways to enter the GVC. In Japan, animators earn $13,400 per year. If you want to enter the GVC, your focus should be Europe and North America. In Europe, about one million IT specialists are needed to fill the gap caused by the ageing population, according to PWC.
Basically, Nigerians and Africans would take advantage of the declining workforce in Europe and North America by earning foreign exchange without having to leave their shores.
How to recession-proof your money
For people who have cash and want to recession-proof their money, the goal is to preserve their money/capital in these times. These are some ways you can recession-proof your money:
- Save in a high-yield savings account: Interest rates are high so you should save some and earn great rates. A high-yield savings account is a type of savings account that pays 20 to 25 times the standard savings account. Your money grows because of compound interest. In Nigeria, some of the top banks have high-yield savings accounts. Please do your research and find out which rates are higher and also do your due diligence on the banks.
- Money market funds: A money market fund is a mutual fund that invests solely in cash and cash equivalents which are also called money market instruments like certificates of deposits, commercial papers, treasury bills, etc. They are great because their interest rates are higher than savings accounts. Money market funds are ideal for short-term savings because they invest in highly liquid securities with the objectives of capital preservation and income. The great thing now is that because of increased interest rates, you can get higher rates on your money market funds. Asset management companies offer money market mutual funds.
- Bonds: Bonds are instruments where you essentially loan money to a bank or government for a return. Short-term bonds are a great option to recession-proof your money. If you are in the US, Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (“TIPS) are government bonds that mirror the rise and fall of inflation. When inflation goes up, the interest rate paid does, too. And when deflation occurs, interest rates fall. Essentially your investment is protected against inflation.
- Stocks: In a recession stocks lose value so it is a great time to invest at a lower price. With stocks, you should always think long-term. Contact your stockbroker or do your due diligence to ensure you purchase stocks from viable companies with a track record
- Real Estate: Real Estate investments particularly Real Estate Investments Trusts (REITs) are also great to invest in.
- Gemstones and precious metals: Precious gemstones and precious metals such as gold are a very attractive investment option especially if you like the finer things of life. It is a great hedge against inflation when you take a long-term outlook.
- Debt: Avoid debt as much as possible, especially credit card debts and if you are in debt a major financial goal you should set is to pay off your debt.
As an employee or entrepreneur, there are opportunities to create wealth and prosper even in a global recession. You just need to have the right mindset to do so. To truly prosper, you should also look into ensuring that you work on other areas such as your health, relationships and more, beyond your money.
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