The Role of Entrepreneurs in Nigeria's Past and Continuing Development
The Role of Entrepreneurs in Nigeria's Past and Continuing Development
Entrepreneurship has long been regarded as a practice in which an owner or manager of a business enterprise makes money through taking risks and further taking initiative (Deakins and Freel, 2009, p.4). Traditionally, entrepreneurs have been seen as individuals who are willing to launch a new venture or enterprise and accept full responsibility for the outcome (Levesque and Minniti, 2010, p.305). Such business maneuvers and strategies employed by such entrepreneurs have the capacity to shape an area's entire economic standing. In terms of development, countries with strong entrepreneurial backgrounds have had the capacity to both develop quickly and maintain a significant economic standing in both the international and their respective domestic markets. The utilization of a true entrepreneurial spirit has long had the capacity to shape a country into the entities that the world sees today, and such spirit has long been seen within Nigeria. In gauging the history of entrepreneurship in Nigeria, one is better able to garner an understanding of the country's development economically and within the business world. Further, it can be seen that current entrepreneurship in Nigeria is a concept that goes back for centuries and continues to develop today.
Early Entrepreneurship in Nigeria and Economic Development
Individuals of the Nigerian Ibo community are considered some of the oldest entrepreneurs in history, with their expertise stretching back to times before modern currency and trade models had developed anywhere else on the planet (Osalor, 2009, p.1). A country rich in the natural talents of its citizens and crafts, the utilization of such facets has long sustained most of the country's rural and urban poor for the better part of the last half century. In a country largely inhabited by varying tribes in until the influx of the white man in the late 1800s, entrepreneurship in Nigeria was based on the primal factors of necessity and survival. Largely rural, certain tribes would utilize tactics for hunting, while others focused on the harvesting of grains. Trade and the utilization of services were seen as commodities to be exchanged, bartered for, and purchased. Characterized by production or manufacturing, entrepreneurship did in fact exist in Nigeria in these types and was utilized widely throughout the country and internationally in the years to come.
For example, the entrepreneurial ability of the Ibo has been traced back to the beginnings of direct trade with Europeans as early as the 1870s. Upon discerning the fundamental values of trade and survival, the Ibo had gained significant headway in trade, business, and entrepreneurial values that would continue both develop and shape the modern use of entrepreneurship in the country (Olutayo, 1999, p. 149). Such tribal entrepreneurship was significantly depleted upon the coming of European colonial masters in the late 1800s. Upon their arrival to trade, European traders largely utilized Nigerians -- including the aforementioned skilled Ibo -- as their middle men, and in this way, modern entrepreneurship in Nigeria was conceived, with many Nigerian entrepreneurs now engaged in retail trade or sole proprietorship (Bizcovering, 2008, p.1).
Economic development in Nigeria has largely been influenced by entrepreneurship, from the times of the aforementioned postcolonial agrarian economy to the present economy that is heavily reliant on oil and gas (Ahiauzu, 2010, p.278). The development of entrepreneurial activities throughout the ages in Nigeria has been significantly vital in promoting Nigeria's economic growth and development. As the country continued to develop over the decades, entrepreneurship began to extend beyond rural residences and into cities. Between 1970 and 195, industrial productivity increased sharply, largely due to involvement of entrepreneurs who aided in the development of newly-utilized oil industry (Mongabay, 2010, p.1). Nigerian entrepreneurship until this point in time had largely been based on necessity, and the economic decline that has been ongoing since the 1980s has created an environment that is generally unfavorable to entrepreneurial success, largely due to infrastructure limits within the country (IE, 2010, p.1).
Aids and Barriers to Continued Entrepreneurial Development
In viewing the current landscape of Nigeria, certain facts can be seen as aids to the continued utilization of entrepreneurship in the country as well as barriers to this continuation. Many of the barriers to successful entrepreneurial development, and therefore economic improvement lie with the high costs of doing business in Nigeria, as well as the fundamental necessities used in order to upkeep the facets implemented by entrepreneurial activity. For example, lacking adequate electricity to rural areas, and therefore a large portion of the population, is an extreme hindrance to increased entrepreneurial ventures (Mat and Razak, 2011, p.124). Additionally, while the government continues to promote the need for entrepreneurs within the economy, the instability of the economy itself proves a massive deterrent for individuals who would otherwise take on such undertakings. In order for entrepreneurship to flourish as it did before the ages of government intervention, entrepreneurs depend on the promotion of free enterprise by a government that largely ignores it (Meagher, 2011, p.54).
However, despite these barriers, Nigeria has certain facets of government involvement and social existence that can aid in the further development of entrepreneurship in the country, and therefore the country's furthered economic development. For instance, Nigeria has the 2nd largest GDP in Africa, which is an added benefit to those who may choose to enter the business world (Ogunrinola, 2011, p.55). The Nigerian government has also put in place a program that promotes exports from Nigeria to other countries, which can be exceedingly helpful for entrepreneurs looking to do business in Europe or in the United States (Singh, 2011, p.202). Nigeria is also focusing an extreme amount of attention to the incorporation of aspects of entrepreneurship that have proved vital to the rest of the world such as the incorporation of modern technology and promoting its use in the educational system.
The Future of Entrepreneurial Development in Nigeria
In 2007, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo set the following goal: Nigeria would become one of the world's top 20 economies in the two decades to follow. How did he plan to accomplish this? Through utilizing two areas: increasing education in information technology and increasing entrepreneurship (Bamkole, 2007, p.1). However, Nigeria will likely never be a front-runner on the international economic stage, despite its vast culture in entrepreneurship. This can be largely attributed to many Nigerians' acceptance of the "informal economy" in which they operate. Despite the widespread use of technology and socially-relevant business models within the country, very few Nigerians are willing to accept them. According to a 2007 Gallup poll, 69% of respondents in Nigeria who planned on undertaking new business ventures had no intention of registering their operations, indicating they would still prefer to be part of the informal economy (Osalor, 2010, p.1).
While Nigeria continues to experience its share of social, economic, and political upheavals, the current government -- pushing a series of policy initiatives in the financial sectors of the economy -- has taken significant steps toward attaining the future it is looking for in terms of an increased position on the world stage (Onwubiko, 2010, p.5). Despite the barriers that lie in the path of continuing to adhere to the values on entrepreneurship within Nigeria, the country is taking significant headway in assuring that the values of such entrepreneurship which have shaped and developed the country in its past continue to remain at the forefront of future development.
While Nigeria faces significant barriers in becoming a more relevant body in the world economic field, its history of skilled entrepreneurship, and the aid that such entrepreneurship has given to the development of the country and its economic framework thus far proves to be a significant aid in looking toward the future. With the implementation of new programs…