Small-business owners at expo learn about online social networks' reach

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Social media is an inexpensive and effective way for a business to reach a large -- even global -- audience.

To help West Africa's business owners learn strategies for using this tool more effectively, Facebook ( and Jumia Nigeria ( teamed up to present the inaugural Boost Your Business conference late last week in Lagos, Nigeria.

The event drew more than 500 owners and representatives of small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) in the region to learn how online social networks can be used to power their businesses.

“We enjoyed sharing our ideas at last week’s workshop about how effective, easy-to-use and mobile social media solutions can help Nigerian entrepreneurs accelerate the growth of their businesses,” Nunu Ntshingila, head of Facebook Africa, said. “SMEs are the backbone of Nigeria’s economy, and encouraging entrepreneurial activity is critical to its growth and development. As of May this year, more than half the people on Facebook in Nigeria were connected to an SME.”

A focus of the workshop was how to use Facebook, Jumia and other platforms to increase Black Friday sales.

“Jumia is proud to partner with Facebook in Nigeria for the very first time," Jumia Africa CEO Jeremy Doutte said. "We are delighted to host an event for the booming Nigerian business community and our sellers in particular, providing them with a better understanding of how they can use Jumia and Facebook to grow their businesses exponentially."

More than 7.1 million Nigerians use Facebook daily.

“As a platform that democratizes marketing, Facebook can help small businesses to reach their full potential,” Ebele Okobi, Facebook's head of public policy for Africa, said.

Jay Osbie, owner of Jumia seller Jay Osbie clothing, said he reaches thousands of buyers through Facebook and Instagram.

“Facebook is significantly cheaper than other channels," Osbie said. "Actually, it's not even comparable.”

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