Nigeria’s Business Environment

I was opportune to spend 12 years of my life in Nigeria. I lived in rural areas of Nigeria. In those years, I learned to trade and farm. I hated selling things because I was shy and didn’t want to share my shyness with everyone. Even as much as I hated selling, I had to do it sometimes. In those times, I would carry my products in a case and go from neighborhood to neighborhood trying to sale my products. Sometimes I sold everything, other times I sold few or nothing. When I came back home with some of the products, they were now considered a waste; loss of money. I was not the only one selling the same products. There were  others. Some of them would carry their products in a pretty case to attract extra attention. Others sold the products to passersby in their stores. I used to wonder how store/business owners made their money, because at times I would see them sitting in their stores for hours with no customer on site.

My mother is a very creative woman. She started many businesses that would flourish, and then deteriorate. I used to wonder why. Her first business was catering. In her second  business as salon owner and a hairdresser, she invested her money into buying a shop and equipment. The business did well for about six months. Eventually she had to close it because she was not making enough to cover utility expenses. Looking back now, I realize that her business may not have been a success because of non-advertising. Nigeria is country where when one person goes into a business, others will see it and replicate immediately.

My mother’s business was not successful because she didn’t do the necessary research monthly. If she had done monthly researching by going around the neighborhoods, and other areas  to check what new businesses has moved in to town, I think she would  have lasted for five years more. Rural area business owners need to learn how to protect their business; they need to know how to advertise their business since, we don’t have yellow pages (a book of ads in the United  States) that tell us where a business is located and what services it render. Obviously the greatest advertisement in rural areas is by word of mouth. In that case people will know where you are and what offer. If I moved into a rural town, naturally I ask people where the closest market is. It is the business owners’ duty to protect their business in any kind of economy.

A survey reviewed in 2009 revealed that Africa’s business and economy will recover faster from the global economic crisis that started in 2008 than any other part of the world. I believe that African Countries would survive any economic or financial crisis quicker because we have natural resources in abundance. We have the talents and skills to event new ways to thrive and survive. The only thing keeping Africa from becoming one of the strong financial economic powers in the world is Africa’s governments/leaders.

African’s governments’ sole purpose as leaders is to passionately look after their own pockets. African Leaders have no real eyes on leading a country; they have no real desire to guide a nation. African Leaders need to show proof of leadership skills before they can be allowed to run for leadership roles such as leading a nation. African nations with their natural resources are countries with many and abundant opportunities. But because of the kind of people that politically devastate these nations, Africans are not going after these opportunities. They focus more on surviving.

In an article written by Yves Leterme presented at a Peace Conference in Belgian, Senaat states that Africa is a continent of many opportunities. Leterme tells a success story of a Chinese man who heard that Africa is hot in climate. The Chinese man thought that if it is hot in Africa, then Africans must need and eat a lot of ice cream. The Chinese man  moves into Africa amd starts his ice cream business successfully. Leterme  states in his article that we Africans need to think like the Chinese man. Leterme states again and again that Africa is continent of opportunity and I believe him.

Africa’s economy is so dynamic that many, including Business Week magazine, saw Africa’s economy as the safest continent to invest into now the west is in economic crisis. In recent  years Africans have moved away from farming to buying produce that they would normally grow in their own farms. To me this means many farm lands are available for mass farming under business guidance as is done here in the Americas. Africa has graduated college seniors looking for work.

Africa has unpaved roads, cracked roads and no traffic lights. Some parts of Africa do not have electricity. Some parts of Africa do not  have running water. Most part of Africa does not have indoor shopping centers or supermarkets. While others spend time thinking about the above things as African’s problems, many of these problems are actually business opportunities.

Time Magazine reports that China is interested in Africa to do business. If the Chinese people can see opportunities in Africa, why can’t Africans see it? What is it that these Chinese people see? What can we do to make sure we are part of building successful businesses in Africa along with the Chinese? Time Magazine also ranked destination business in Africa (meaning starting a business in Africa) at number six on their top ten ideas changing the world right now. This means the world is starting to see huge opportunities in Africa. Africans need to get on that boat and see these opportunities before the rest the world comes and take over. Even billionaire Warren Buffet is looking over for new business ventures.

Warren Buffet states that he invests into businesses that he understands. In Nigeria, there are so many businesses. If one person comes up with an idea, everybody jumps into it. Dilutes the business and the business desecrates. Warren Buffet encourages others to invest into a business that is hard to replicate as he has done in the past. Most businesses in  Africa fell because they are easy to replicate. Even the movie industries in Africa replicate American movies. I just watched this Ghanaian movie “The King is Mine.” This movie is exact replica of “The Other Boleyn Girl” directed by Justin Chadwick. How can we expect investors to invest into theses industries that replicate products when we seen a better version and copying is not that legal. The most successful businesses are not easy to replicate.

For Africans to successed in their businesses, something about their business has to be unique from all others similar to it, and it is not the prices. Think about it, why are the Chinese people are so interested in doing business in  Africa? They must have found something that is hard to replicate. Africa has resources that are hard to replicate; we can build businesses that are hard to replicate. We can give investors confidence in investing into African businesses. Africans need to create businesses, not replicate or copy what others are doing. Create! Not replicate! Create something new that no one else knows. Create something that others will have to learn from you. Create something that is part  of your talent and skills. Create something unique from you, not replicate what others are doing. Investors are interested in new ideas, not old ideas. So create not replicate.

Think about this, Warren Buffet is not going to risk his hard earned billions on a copy when there is the original. He is not going spend a dime on something easily copied when he can see something unique.


AAE is a volunteer-run organisation coordinated by a network of national teams.

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