Among the varieties of wood found in riverine areas is the cane wood, a major source of livelihood and employment, as thousands of unemployed youths in Nigerian have found their ways into the business of cane weaving.
While offering internet users products from artisans and craftsmen in order to make income from their skilled trades our correspondence Rachel Fadoju met with Blessing onwordi, in Maryland area of Lagos state to share her experiences in the world of cane weaving.
Apart acquiring education with the hope of getting a job, Blessing being inspired by the creative works of her parents opted to continue in the business of cane weaving to earn a living.
“I had my basic education but could not further due to financial constraints, I however find joy in what am doing”
Just like very industry have specific catalogue with various designs for production, can weaver has none as most of their designs are made from furniture’s catalogue and magazine.
“People bring the designs they want us to make for them, either from a magazine, sample and we practice them… we don’t have specific catalogue as cane weavers”
The young Entrepreneur who has been in the cane business from childhood, states the production process entails division of labour, the carpentry aspect of production which includes framing, waving, filing and many others.
On patronage, the cane weaver said her income from cane business is seasonal as demands are high during festivities like Christmas, when people exchange gifts like hamper however, people outside the country appreciates cane products more.
“From January to October, sales is very low and poor, people only buy for traditional marriage that period and it’s not much! Just one, two or three…”
And this is not too good, every household item we sell here but nigerians don’t appreciate us”
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On financing the business, blessing with over 30yeara of experience said, some banks present loans packages to them but she finances her business through personal savings and proceeds from sales.
“I don’t take Bank loans because Sales is very low, whatever I sell, I save up and buy the stuffs need. Paying back Bank loans is not easy with this kind of business”
Blessing estimates that the cane industry has lost business by 50 per cent, compared to five years back. The cost of transporting raw materials from the Niger Delta to Lagos is huge as it wipes off almost the entire profit.
“We get our materials from rural areas, Delta, Benin and Epe, its always expensive to get the wood and sometimes it takes time before we get them making it expensive”
Considering the cheap substitutes in wood, metal and plastic, which are threatening its growth, local furniture companies who produce and import low cost, well finished wooden and metallic furniture, capable of capturing buyers’ preference over the cane wood, what is their edge?
She smiles… “Canewood is very strongooo, your can’t it with those plastic products, cane products lasts longer and durable”.
Some of the challenges faced in doing the business include location to make easy accessibility for prospective buyers, wood transportation, marketing support and difficulty in securing the cane products.
“It is only God that secures… at night, we only cover them and even if people come at night to pick anyone, we may not know because of the number, we don’t count the number we have in store”.
Blessing Onwordi, who said the can business had been in existence for over 40years, implored Nigerians to embrace locally-mad products and services, as it would help grow the nation economically, industrially as well as develop small and medium scale businesses.
“We are begging Nigerians, they should please patronize us, help us and stop looking at us that we ‘re poor. Many people believe the cane business is for the poor people…, we are not poor, and graduates do come to the cane village to learn.
It is important for the youths and unemployed to take advantage of the available resources at their disposal to make ends meet, get involve in entrepreneurship and learn skills that would improve standard of living as “everyone will not be involve in white collar job”