Innovation, collectivistic business approach drive Nigerian entrepreneurship

In Summary

  • Covid-19 pandemic has created opportunities for Start-ups.
  • Government support, accelerators for startups, innovation, and growth of technology have boosted the entrepreneurship drive.

Me, I wan work, I wan do business …

Such colloquial “pidgin English” depicts the entrepreneurial atmosphere captivating in Nigeria.

The business enterprises in Nigerian have grown over the decade. The FTSE 100 directors have incrementally experienced the same.

It is for the reason the country boasts of largest economy in Africa as its most populous country endowed with a copious amount of natural resources including oil and gas.

An opinion article in iAfrikan perfectly summarizes the current drive for business success:

“We do not brave the cruel uncertainty of risk because we pursue the glory of innovation; instead we do so because the threat of poverty is a real and very present danger in the lives of many Nigerian men and women.”1 

Government support, accelerators for startups, innovation, and growth of technology have spiked up the entrepreneurship drive.

High achievers in entrepreneurship

The county boasts some of the wealthiest and innovative entrepreneurs of our time. This includes Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote.

The growth in businesses is a demonstration of the rise in start-ups. Hence growth and maintenance of powerhouse oil companies.

Dangote started his first business group at the age of 20 and never looked back. As of 2014, the business mogul has a net worth of $8.3 billion2.

This progressive culture is also demonstrated through the success of Jimoh Ibrahim, who has a net worth of $1.1 billion. Ibrahim amassed his wealth through numerous business portfolios.

Both entrepreneurs seek to spread the entrepreneurialism igniting Nigeria to the majority of West Africa, in the hopes of inaugurating business cooperation and harmony3.

Business drive to fill the void

Entrepreneurship in Nigeria is as effectively established in high net worth individuals as it is with start-ups and the local villages.

This is prevalent in an interview conducted by “How We Made It in Africa,” which detailed the meeting of Sam, a local taxi driver4.

Despite Sam’s full-time employment, he has amassed several business schemes, including a region-based oil pipeline outfit company.

Sam identified a gap in the market where the Government utilises foreign outfits from companies based in Norway.

Sam has created a local venture to allow for revenue and economic activity to remain with Nigeria, further nationalising the country and promoting self-sufficiency5.

Covid-19 opportunities for Start-ups

The Corona pandemic has granted citizens of this collectivistic country the opportunities to improve their lives and others.

BBC Pigdin showed a number of businesses developed recently due to the pandemic. The article primarily highlighted the developments of Omobolanle Atitebi6.

Atitebi is a textile trader who has employed the national supply and love of traditional attire to create the bespoke mask-making business Plush Touch.

Atitebi prides herself on her tailored masks. The entrepreneur utilizes multiple unconventional materials, and promoting her business successfully on social media.

Accordingly, Atitebi has made a success of her new business, even gaining attention from the BBC.

Motorcycle transport services

There has been a national surge in commercial motorcycle companies, also known as the “okada” business.

Various enterprises formed deliver equipment and medicine to those throughout the country.

These businesses also deliver food to Covid-19 patients, and those who are unable to travel to the market. The emerging companies were all trained by the Business Institute in Lagos.

Such progression links perfectly to the collectivistic approach West Africans take when configuring business ideas.

A quote by Aliko Dangote perfectly sums this up: “Every morning when I wake up, I make up my mind to solve as many problems, before retiring home.”7 

Business in Nigeria is a means of mitigating the hardship suffered by citizens on a daily basis. Covid-19 has just amplified the situation and possibilities of improvement.

Funding Start-ups

The growth of start-ups has been plagued by lack of funding since majority of Nigerians lives in poverty. However, there has been a shift in the paradigm.

 Nigerian start-ups have gained the notice of many multinational companies. Especially though the modern boom in technology use.  As depicted through Atitebi’s story, social media has become a mechanism for marketing and improving the community8.

This has resulted in the income gap between large corporations and start-ups to be reduced significantly. Commercial companies such as EY and IBM have launched several funding competitions to empower and sponsor African start-ups9.

The competitions have already elevated a number of start-ups, including LifeBank, which received funding from EchoVC Partners in 2016. Success story Temi Giwa-Tubosun used her funding award to empower her transporting company.

LifeBank transports more than 200,000 blood and oxygen products to over 300 hospitals throughout Nigeria, using Google Maps to increase the supply and demand chain10.

As of 2020, Giwa-Tubosun has launched a new drive-through mass-testing facility to combat the Covid-19 outbreak.

Companies like this have contributed to the 500% volume increase of digital payments through the Nigerian economy, as confirmed in the 2019 official economic statistics.

Government has begun to support start-ups

Even the Nigerian Government has begun to support start-ups and national manufacturing companies. The country has embraced local businesses and nationally produced food and beverages.

This is evident in the rise of Rite Food, as documented by the BBC11.

The managing director confirmed the business is being acclaimed as “a proud Nigerian brand,” with the national consumer market being worth $150 billion.

The BBC has weighed in on potential theories to explain this boom, including the fact that the market change has made homemade goods much more competitive than imported goods.

The negative growth is a reference to the 2019 recession sustained by Nigeria. This bounceback from the recession has now placed Nigeria as the business hub of West Africa12.

Ibukun Awosika, a Nigerian businessman, once said entrepreneurship is a national service. People who dare to build businesses, do it out of the love of their country.13

Whether this growth and business spirit are propelled by poverty or entrepreneurialism, they indicate that Nigerians are avidly seeking to better themselves and their country through ever-changing models of business and technology.



BBC Focus on Rite Foods: The Challenge of Creating Successful Nigerian Product, Pulse Mix, 2019

Business Quotes From Nigerian Entrepreneurs That Will Motivate You to Success,, 2020

Entrepreneurs Take the Wheel in Africa’s Development, Games, African Business, 2020

Most Successful Entrepreneurs in Nigeria in 2020, Odusanya, Legit, 2020

The Nigerian Entrepreneurial Spirit and the Fear of Poverty, Ekwensu, iAfrikan, 2019

The Spirit of Entrepreneurship in Nigeria, Kurian, Now We Made It In Africa: Africa Business Insight, 2017

News Items

Business Ideas During Lockdown: Five Different Hustle Wey Fit Bring You Money Dis Coronavirus Period, Okunnu, BBC News Pidgin, 2020

The Company is Powering Blood Donations in Nigeria Through Google Maps, Salaudeen, CNN, 2019

1 Ekwensu, “The Nigerian Entrepreneurial Spirit and the Fear of Poverty,” iAfrikan, 2019,

2 Rachel Odusanya, “Most Successful Entrepreneurs in Nigeria in 2020,” Legit, 2020,

3 ibid

4 Santosh Kurian, “The Spirit of Entrepreneurship in Nigeria,” How We Made It In Africa: Africa Business Insight, 2017,

5 ibid

6 Olubunmi Okunnu, “Business Ideas During Lockdown: Five Different Hustle Wey Fit Bring You Money Dis Coronavirus Period,” BBC News Pidgin, 2020,

7 ibid

8 ibid

9 Dianna Games, “Entrepreneurs Take the Wheel in Africa’s Development,” African Business, 2020,

10 Aisha Salaudeen, “The Company is Powering Blood Donations in Nigeria Through Google Maps,” CNN, 2019,

11 Pulse Mix, “BBC Focus On Rite Foods: The Challenge of Creating Successful Nigerian Product,” 2019,

12 ibid

13, “Business Quotes From Nigerian Entrepreneurs That Will Motivate You to Success,” 2020,,brand%20and%20never%20destroy%20it.%E2%80%9D


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