Friday 8 May 2009

Business in Naij.......

Hello again,
Its L.C here-Hope you have all had a fabulous week so far, mine was alrite details later. Im just glad it is a three day weekend...…I heart bank holidays.

Ok so I have being instructed by our editor in chief to get serious in my articles and stop embarrassing our mission of contradicting the women only talk about relationships stereotype. So today’s article is going to be about a more serious issue on a field I think im averagely knowledgeable about.


Or something in that line. So since relocating home as a prospective entrepreneur I have been forced to observe the roads to business success stories most of the successful corporations have taken and their patterns of market entry and sustainability. And its come to my knowledge that starting a business in Nigeria is a pretty easy task, I mean registration of your company can be sorted out within a week(of course with “thank you” packages to the right people) but the daunting task comes with business sustainability. The major draw back being inefficient labour, labour or workmanship is the most difficult asset to access in the Nigerian economy. This scarcity is not based on the lack of academic competencies of the labour force; on the contrary a high percentage Nigerians possesses a minimum of a tertiary education.

This incompetence lies in the everyman for itself mentality most Nigerians possess, or simply put greedy mentality. No one is ready to be patient and understand their craft, they just want to jump ship and move on to the next money making scheme based on popular demand. I was first told about this when I recently came back by the MD/CEO of Ruff and Tumbles (a kids clothing outlet) but as the months progressed I realised just how chronic this problem is . A case in point, I recently went to a popular salon in VI to get my nails done and the Head artist attended to me, the lady was fairly good at her job(albeit over priced) was going on about how she wanted to change to being a make up artist seen as artist like Banke M were making a lot more money than nail artists. And I asked what her boss would do and why she didn’t want to just open her own nail salon instead, and her reply was that the move would help her kill two birds with one stone by reminding her boss she was the one who had the skill and she would be moving to a more popular career line.

To showcase another major problem with Nigerian businesses, lets take the fast food business for our case study. The fast food business is one form of business that sells in Lagos, I mean with the changing culture of married women going to these restaurants to stock up meals to carry their households for the week to the high population of singletons its no wonder it sells so well. However you find up to 8 different fast food cafes just on one high street because the new comers heard how much sales village cottage is making. This is not even the concern because the numbers of commercial banks on these streets have enough staff to patronize these eateries. My concern arises when they all serve the same menu just cause it worked for village cottage. To put it simply Nigerian businesses lack innovation. No one is prepared to take a chance and offer something different. So once a business plan works for a particular company you simply duplicate the same plan with a slight window dressing. That’s why my future plan is to offer the Nigerian society a one stop business advisory firm with business and finance restructuring services…o.k. I digress.

Another problem I have noticed is that Nigerian businesses do not understand the concept of backward or forward integration , as a method of business growth. I work with one of the big audit firms and from the little I have seen from clients accounts they really need to learn to integrate but client confidentiality prevents me from disclosing…oh and what ever happened to the primary and secondary forms of economy in our dear country .The only businesses we participate in are the tertiary ones in the form of white collar corporations. Ok I know secondary ala manufacturing is a daunting task based on electricity issues but what happened to farming and mining on a large scale …an export worthy scale... Nigeria’s only form of income is oil but we have so much more to offer. I was recently teased with a ray of hope when First Bank and UBA announced their provision of loans to farmers, only to find out it was only for farmers with a net capital of 200m…come on now!!!!!!!…how many farmers have that..( in a way though it might encourage production at a high level if the facility is given to only such farmers).

Another I (Miss B) noticed is the printing bussiness. Ovation was the first major lifestyle magazine in Nigeria and he broke the ground for publishing glossy pics of wedding and lifestyles of the rich and famous. I remember the time we used to buy all editions so we can see which fashionable aunt is in and the latest trad styles. Now there are a million and one publications. Now dont get me wrong, am all for competition, but most of them are crap! Full of terrible articles and typo-errors with no content. Although some like True love and Genevieve are world class mags, the market is saturated with cheaper versions of them and you can see that its crippling thier sales. Nigerians always love to go for the cheaper version of things so its hard for them to rely on thier quality to see them through these tough times
There are so many examples of this, there was the pure water phase, the recharge card phase, the private university phase, and now we seem to be in the human hair/musician/make-up artist/wedding planner phase. In other countries they try to better inventions and ideas, and not blindly imitate. Look at the harvard kid that came up with facebook? its not the first social networking site, he just corrected the problems of hi5 and others. the simplest ideas are always the most genius. Dont get me wrong, there are alot of young Nigerians doin creative things, for example my senior in zamani currently has an Apple/ipod store in Cedi plaza in Abuja and is the only one as far as I know. Another is making organic make-up using all natural products, while another friend of mine sells vintage clothing. And theres obviously my role model bella naija. But these are definately the exceptions and not the norm. So the question remains, what can we do to ensure that Nigerians are more innovative?

L.C and Miss B


  1. First of all I must say I love your vision for Nigeria and am proud of you for writing deep. You said it all my sister, there are a lot of talented people in Nigeria but the truth remains, no one wants to take time to create something different and unique. Everyone is opting for "Money" and still greed plays a big role in why Nigerian business men and women are not progressing like their foreign counterparts.

    I love the fact that you hinted various business like nail, why would a nail artiste want to start doing makeup just to please her boss,...Don't get it. Seriously, my previous blog "The Career Driven Woman" would have spotlighted this post for real. Great post by the way.

    N:B How is the banking industry in Nigeria? Must a fresh graduate from abroad do NYSC? Just curious how the market is in Nigeria for Business minded ladies like myself. I love reading your blog by the way, you have a mind different from many Nigerians, am guessing your exposure to life abroad. Keep it up, you are on the road to success.

  2. Nigerians have a fear of failure, our culture is not a if a first u don't succeed.....
    We will only attempt something once its been proven to work successfully several times over.
    Nobody will look at a man having a minor setback and think "hmm i wonder if i did it this way" rather it'll be "ehen before who send am msg"
    The painful thing is those brave enough to take the leap don't have their ideas protected, the minute they turn a profit they're besieged with watered down versions left, right and center. What is Nigeria's stand on intellectual property? Shouldn't there be a time restraint on this free for all, open market nonsense.
    There should be patents in place to protect innovation cos this will in turn promote sustainability. Markets will be better regulated and we can get to working on harvesting minds not oil.
    The lazy ones can twirl their thumbs and await the next gold rush. Best of Luck to them.

  3. You are very right. I am not a business person myself but as a mere observer, I think the "quantity is better than quality" mentality is what kills alot of great ideas in Nigeria.

  4. Hey yankeenaijababe..thanks 4 the comments not 2 verse on the banking sector apart from what you see on the surface that is...but banking in naij has bn reducing to begging for a first level staff as a chic in the commercial branchs (not d portfolio managment branch) u either get marketing,csu(customer service) or cash and teller which in my opinion is not very stimulating..but if u can get into ibtc,standard chartered i hear its preety different in these banks..then the pay in banks has really reduced due to most banks loosing money in the capital market and through AGO(diesel) financing..its not essential u do NYSC..but most companies will ask for it..especially the big ones..but i hear there r loads of ways 2 arrangee it...or u can bargain with d company u serve with as a frn student to earn the income of proper staff while u serve..different runzzz LC xoxo

  5. Thumbs up Miss B, really like this post. Innovative is definetly the word

  6. I appreciate the labor you have put in developing this blog. Nice and informative.