General Issues · Opinions

A NEW NIGERIA: THE ROLE OF THE ENTREPRENEUR

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Growing up we got the idea of going through school and getting a white collar job with somewhat a good pay to take home but with the increase in unemployment rate to 7.5% in the Q1 of 2015 we need to fall back on “creative energy”.
A new Nigeria would not be complete if the youths still believe in that trend of looking for jobs.

Nations like China, UAE, Taiwan, and India understand the influence of entrepreneurship in developing a country and have created an enabling environment to foster growth. Back to Nigeria, the Gross Domestic Product(GDP) was recently rebased from about $270billion to $510billion in 2013 which made us the largest economy in Africa but it is not reflecting on GDP per capital where we rank 122nd in the world. Let’s assume those numbers are accurate then there is a lot we aren’t doing right because yes the statistics may have changed but the reality remains the same.

In the last elections we craved for change and voted in the new government with the oath of a new Nigeria by curbing corruption and diversifying the economy (reducing the reliance on crude oil income).

My definition of an entrepreneur is a creator of value that takes risk from opportunities and they would be the drivers of the government’s plan for its people. Anyone who doubts the benefit of entrepreneurial contributions should compare United States and the former Soviet Union in the post- World War II period. Those two nations had a population of roughly equal size. Both had strong central governments, substantial natural resources, and high levels of literacy and technical know-how but over 50 years after the war, the United States outpaced its rivals. The American culture honored and supported entrepreneurs, its laws safeguarded property, including intellectual property. Its unrestricted flows of capital allowed funds to move to enterprises with the most attractive risk/reward characteristics while the Soviets suppressed the energy and acquisitiveness of individuals who had ideas. Many of the economic failures of the Soviet Union and the successes of its rival can be attributed to their different treatment of entrepreneurs.

We have to change some things to have a successful economy, let’s start from central bank’s policy where our interest rate is still in double figures of about 11%. A lot of people can’t compete locally and internationally. The bankers here would rather loan to people that are rich and also the government because it’s safer. In china at the moment the interest rate lies down there at 4.5% and they are the fastest growing economy. The government needs to provide flows of capital for rising enterprises, the microfinance banks have not done enough for the kind of growth we are looking for. The truth is with us lacking a lot with infrastructure, electricity, security etc. people don’t want to invest here but with the sincerity the new government is showing this would change. We back here have to be prepared for the changes; people would say there isn’t a long chain of opportunities in this country. I disagree totally because there are a lot of untapped opportunities in communication, agriculture, manufacturing, technical advancements, housing, health, sports, fashion to mention a few.

Let’s take fashion for example which is becoming more lucrative with numerous brands for both male and female but we are yet to cloth 10million Nigerians (from indigenous brands) and we have a population of about 170million people. I am of the opinion that we build a fashion university where people can learn to make, brand and distribute their products. You can say that’s going too extreme but look at Finland for instance they built a Forestry University( University of Eastern Finland) with areas of expertise; Forestry, Environmental science and bio-science in 2010 and today forest industry is the 3rd biggest sector in Finland(13%) .

For you to be an entrepreneur you need to ask yourself some questions which include:

1. Can you tolerate a high level of risk?

2. Are you an overachiever?

3. Are you willing to put in ten-to twelve- hour days over an extended period, including weekends, to reach your goals?

4. Are you a self-starter?

5. Would you describe yourself a good decision maker?

6. Are you willing to put your personal funds at risk?

7. Do you have commitment required to build a business in the face of long hours and modest odds of success?

I am sure you would be wondering why all these questions, that I should be asking if you have a business idea. Ideas are important, but rarely are they as important as personal background, motivation and attitude.

A Harvard Business School professor Walter Kuemmerle examined more than fifty start-up enterprises in twenty countries and across all industries and came up with some characteristics an entrepreneur should possess and they include:

1. Comfortable stretching the rules

2. Prepared to make powerful enemies

3. Have patience to start small

4. Willing to switch strategies quickly

5. Know how to close a deal.

Entrepreneurial people are always generating ideas for potential businesses but how can you recognize the few that represent true business opportunities. An opportunity should have the following characteristics.

1. Create significant value for customers by solving a significant problem or filling a significant unmet need for which they are willing to pay a premium

2. Offers significant profit potential to the entrepreneur and investors

3. Represents  a good fit with the capabilities of the founder and the management team

4. Is durable, in the sense that the opportunity for profits will persist over a reasonable length of time.

5. The opportunity is amendable financing.

For a new Nigeria we should look away from graduating and writing a resume but more of executive summaries ( look for angel investors instead of jobs).

With a sincere government we should be able to be in top 10 economies in the world by 2030, where the government’s major income would be from taxpayers and not crude oil.

GOD BLESS NIGERIA!!!!!!! AND NIGERIA ALONE

OLUSEGUN ISIOYE

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