How to Start a Small Import Business in Nigeria with Less than N50, 000

Anyone can start a small import business from home. The world is fast changing and new technology is opening uncharted frontiers for everyone.
Before now, starting an import business was a herculean task. You had to contend with import duties, tax, quality assessment, letter of credit, and custom fees.
Although the old establishment still exists there are slight variations due to globalization. Formally only deep pocket individuals and businesses could go into importation.
Today any individual could join the bandwagon with little cash. Import business is about purchasing goods wholesale at low prices and selling for profit. This article will show you how to start an import business anywhere in the world.
Things to Import
The product depends on your business plan and niche. Top products imported into Nigeria are office equipment, kitchen utensils, phone and tablets.
Others are electronic gadgets, shoes, cloths, accessories and laptops. More are headphones, chargers, batteries and hair extensions.
  • Choose a product
  • Open an account
  • Go online
  • Search foreign stores
  • Place order
  • Pay for goods
  • Take delivery of goods
How to start a Small Import Business
The Rudiments of Importation
It is good to understand the rudiments of importation business. The basics involve buying low, selling high. The margin between the purchase price and sales is your profit.
Buying at a low price is possible if the small business owner buys directly from manufacturers. Alternately they could buy from big importers. However the major challenge to small scale investors is finance.
Minimum Order Quantity
Every major supplier and manufacturer has what they call Minimum Order Quantity. The minimum order quantity is the lowest quantity of products they are willing to sell.
Some suppliers peg the minimum quantity for purchase at 1000 units. While manufacturers place a minimum order of 10,000 units.
This MOQ is the reason small investors without adequate capital are removed from the equation. Manufacturers love volume and are only interested in selling to big importers.
Import Business Flow Chart
The product is manufacturer then sold to big importer who sells to small business. The small business then sells to customers. The value chain is what affects the final price of the product and profit margin.
Factory – Big Importer – Small Business Owner – Customer
How Things Have Change
There is a big change in the import value chain in today’s reality. The internet has opened the world to commerce in an unprecedented way.
Small businessmen are able to reach manufacturers and skip the big importers. This is because the small business owner is not bound by demography or air travel.
They can reach manufacturers at very little cost and remove the middleman. They purchase the product at the lower unit price from manufactures and sells to customers at maximum profit.
Top Manufacturers
Top product manufacturers and suppliers are USA, Europe and China. China has in recent times become the marketplace of the world.
The reason is because of huge labor force, cheaper prices and technology advancement. The Chinese manufacturers dominate the world and are willing to do business with Africa. They produce billions of consumer good in mega plants at cheaper costs.
The Products Quality
The products quality depends on the standardization enforced by governments. Manufactures readily comply with each countries provision on quality. High quality products would always find eager customers and recommendations.
To ensure that you buy quality products study the feedback of customers on a product. Those with 4 to 5 stars are good products to consider. Other ways is to read the product description and search the net for information.
How to Start the Import Business
There are a few things you need to start your import business. You need a laptop, 3G/ 4G modem and smartphone. The modem is to facilitate internet connection 247.
You need a shipping address to receive goods, email address and bank account. Use your home address as your company address. You can buy a used laptop at N10, 000, universal USB modem N2, 500 and 1 month internet subscription at N1000.
Where to Buy Products
Once you have your computer and internet connection the next step is to find suppliers. There are many good supplier eager to do business. Your job is to find small scale importers especially from China. Here are some reliable importers for small business owners.
The iPmart focuses only on electronic products. They offer buyers electronic products such as smartphone’s and phone accessories. The gadgets are numerous and high quality.
They can ship products from the United States, Malaysia and China. To purchase products all you need to do is signup on the website and become a registered member. is the number one destination for small importers. A subsidiary of Alibaba the site has 20+ product categories for importers. They have registered suppliers and buyers in 220 countries.
If you want to do business with medium and small enterprises in China look no further. The eCommerce website allows importers order products directly on the site. They offer a wide range of products, customer service, online chat and email messaging. is a top player in eCommerce business. They stock millions of products from suppliers and merchants. All you need to do is sign up and browse through the website. Select products into your shopping cart and make payment. Note that not all goods are shipped to Nigeria.
How to Pay for Products
There are many payment methods used to purchase goods. You could use a PayPal account, debit card or electronic fund transfer. Other methods include Escrow or letter of credit from your bank. Top website provide buyer protection to secure payment against fraudsters.
How do you get Your Goods?
There are many shipping options available to merchants. The goods are delivered either by mail, DHL.
The mail service is slow and your goods could get stolen. DHL or FEDEX mail are more expensive but very fast. While the mail may cost less and take about 60 days, DHL would take 2-3 days.
Sell your Products
Sell you products directly from your store or use the internet. You could build an eCommerce store or sell via social media. Start small by purchasing a few products to learn the tricks. As your business grows gradually increase inventory.


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