Entrepreneurial activities are on the rise in Nigeria. This is mainly as a result of the lack of jobs that plague many Nigerians including university graduates. A study carried out by Gallup showed that 67 percent of Nigerians are willing to start their own businesses. Furthermore, 80 percent of those interviewed believed that their businesses would be successful in Nigeria. This is a large percentage as compared to the results of other West African countries whose median for those willing to start a business was 44 percent. This trend has not gone unnoticed and the former Nigerian president, Olusegun Obasanjo even mandated that entrepreneurial skills be taught to all university students irrespective of their major.
All this is in line with the Nigerian Economic Policy for 1999-2003 whose purpose is to promote education through the use of technology. The Nigerian president also has big plans for the country one of them being to see Nigeria as one of the top 20 economies of the world by the year 2020. This, he hopes will come to pass if the policy is duly implemented. According to this policy, one other way that these ambitious goals can be achieved is by partnering up with certain agencies such as the Fate Foundation in Nigeria and the United Nations Transfer of Knowledge through Expatriate Nationals (TOTKEN) which are dedicated to encourage entrepreneurship.
Entrepreneurs in Nigeria face unique challenges that hinder their entrepreneurial spirit and encourage rampant corruption. Nigeria has been previously known as one of the most corrupt countries in the world and this discouraged free enterprise. Nigeria has also been largely dependent on the income from oil that other economic sectors have been grossly underdeveloped. During the oil boom period of between 1973 and 1980, Nigeria’s GDP rose to $1,100 in 1980 from the previous $220 in 1971. However, due to inappropriate government policies Nigeria’s economy was left vulnerable. Investment was made mostly with the oil industry in mind that other sectors such as the manufacturing and the agricultural sector was rendered noncompetitive.
The fall of oil prices all over the world during the 1980’s combined with a general increase in the capital markets real interest rates, greatly affected the domestic and international fiscal situation of Nigeria. This led to a general economic slump which was characterized by a significant fall in GDP from 1,100 in the 1980’s to $340. According to the World Development Report of 1994, Nigeria had dropped from being a middle income level country into one of the poorest countries in the world. A devaluation of this kind created very high inflation, a general spread in poverty and high unemployment rates.
Other factors that have affected entrepreneurship in Nigeria include poor infrastructure, high cost of doing business, constant political, tribal, religious and ethnic violence, gender discrimination and lack of quality education. However, measures are being taken to cub all these negative influences and to make Nigeria conducive for entrepreneurship. Despite all the challenges that have affected the Nigerian economy, business development and entrepreneurship has taken root. It is especially known that individuals from the Ibo ethnic group have great entrepreneurial skills. The number of private firms has greatly increased since the 1980’s although they are quite small when it comes to employment, revenues and capital. Nigeria currently ranks second after South Africa in terms of GDP and if proper measures are taken and appropriate policies adopted then it may as well take the top spot.
Starting any type of a business requires planning, imagination or creativity, inner drive to succeed and of course hard work. However, the main traits and characteristics of entrepreneurs that make their businesses stand out from the crowd include; the desire to achieve. Entrepreneurs are people who highly desire to achieve. An entrepreneur should not wait for things to happen but should rather make them happen. They are also highly competitive and would always try to be informed about latest entrepreneurial developments. Entrepreneurs are also self starters. This is to mean that they motivate themselves to do something. They do not need an incentive to do anything but the desire to succeed is enough to get then started. They would rather make their own mistakes and learn from them
Entrepreneurship also requires hard work. As entrepreneurs, it is important to know that success does not come in a silver platter but has to be worked for. Entrepreneurs realize that they have to put in a lot of time and effort to see there dream come true. Focus is also another very essential characteristic of an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs know what they want and will do anything to achieve that. This is related to positive thinking in that they believe that everything will turn out well in the end no matter what. Entrepreneurs are also non conformers and almost always wanting to stand out of the crowd. A successful Nigerian entrepreneur should also avoid being pinned down to anything and instead make their own goals and objectives rather than working for someone else.
Entrepreneurs are also born leaders. Good leaders inspire trust in others and motivate them to do something. A good leader efficiently influences, guides and directs people. This trait is especially important when hiring people for the newly founded business. An entrepreneur should possess good judgmental skills and be sharp and bright capable of making wise decisions. Good communication skills are also a must for an entrepreneur. This means that a successful entrepreneur can efficiently convey a message which will be clearly understood. This trait only works well if one is also a keen listener. Entrepreneurs are risk takers. Running a business in itself is a risk because if one does not make calculated choices it could easily collapse. Successful entrepreneurs therefore, take calculated risks in order to succeed. Entrepreneurship also requires dedication. Entrepreneurs tend to stick to their ventures no matter what. They do not easily give up and when they make a mistake, they learn and move on rather than obsessing on that one failure.
Starting and running a business has its ups and down and the ability to stick by it defines a true Nigerian entrepreneur. Creativity and innovation is also another trait that characterizes a successful entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs will always look for new ways of doing things. They are not afraid to try out new ideas and are highly imaginative. Their products or services therefore usually have an edge due to this creativeness. Generally, Nigerian entrepreneurs need a strong spirit that will endure all the trials and tribulations that come with a business. Nigerian entrepreneurs therefore need to make informed choices before deciding to enter into entrepreneurship.