The Growing Businesses Foundation (GBF) has tirelessly worked for 22 years to support entrepreneurship amongst the most underserved people in Nigeria. They have touched projects ranging from rural telecommunications, microcredit and the distribution of essential goods to peri-urban and rural communities.
In 2014, Shakti Nigeria (Gbemiga) was launched as a collaboration between Unilever and GBF. Starting with a 100 woman pilot in Ibadan, GBF aimed to replicate the success of Unilever’s original Shakti programme in India. Back in 2014, Nigeria’s mobile broadband penetration stood at 10%, one-fifth of what it is today. GBF and Unilever built Nigeria’s Shakti network offline and from the ground up, without the help of social network platforms or mobile apps.
Through tenacious iteration, GBF has developed a robust and replicable programme to transform disadvantaged rural women into thriving convenience entrepreneurs. By providing training, start-up financing, on-going support and supplier relationships, GBF has helped many women graduate from selling door-to-door to become owner-operators of brick and mortar provision stores.
Since its launch, the Shakti programme has grown into a 5,000 woman strong network of retailers across 17 states. In 2020, Shakti entrepreneurs contributed 5% of Unilever Nigeria’s turnover ($10M).
Increasing smartphone penetration provides an opportunity to broaden GBF’s impact and ensure the Shakti entrepreneur network continues to thrive. Boost is thrilled to work alongside GBF to digitise stock ordering and fulfilment, and power the growth of the network to 25,000 women across Nigeria by 2025.