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Friday, December 2, 2022

Fate of entrepreneurs in Nigeria’s harsh economy

By Adedotun Ajayi

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In Nigeria today, entrepreneurship is assuming a critical role in the economy because of widespread unemployment, which has led many young individuals to learn a craft or start a business, almost everywhere you turn, you are likely to find a young person who owns one business or another. From logistics, food retail, cosmetics, event planning, interior design, fashion, style, agriculture, tech or even as a Vendor, young people in Nigeria are trying to either start a new business or manage an existing business, despite the harsh and tough business climate in Nigeria.

However, many young people have refused to be deterred by the harsh economic policies and are proving their mettles.

It is everyone’s knowledge that Nigeria as a country is going through hard times as a result of its monolithic economy associated with bad  leaders laced with massive corruption.

With the current entrepreneurial bug hitting the global economic landscape, it is high time our youths leverage on this opportunity with the help of internet technology to create meaningful jobs for themselves.

Surely, we’ll affirm that some few serious Nigerian youths with great foresight have taken to this path already. One young entrepreneur who has braced the odds and made a name for himself is Moses Abolanle, who hails from Akoko, Ondo State. He is the chairman/chief executive officer of the MK Group of companies. MK stands for Moses Kolawole, which includes subsidiaries like MK poultry and food, Investments, and MK guards (Private Security).

Speaking with The Hope, Moses had this to say as he chronicled his ordeals while starting off as an entrepreneur “So I’m sure every business owner be it big or small, would point at lack of  funds or capital as a major problem, but aside this, there are quite number of challenges that I didn’t look out for before going into the business and it’s really choking.

As good as rivalry is supposed to make business do even better, it’s causing more harm than good. Take for example, a potential client approaches me and asks for my price, after giving to him, he goes and mentions about three other brands who would do it for a lesser price, and truly he would get it, this isn’t because the price is too high, but because other companies or agencies are ready to compromise because truly the cost of putting theirs out there is cheaper, that’s talking about the quality of services rendered, this kind of situation would compel one to lower his standard just to get jobs.

Another problem is lack of an actual regulation, in this case, just anyone who feels he’s big in body size, comes out and put himself as a bouncer or bodyguard, no security knowledge or tactics, and these are majorly the people who accept just any price from the clients, cause they’ve nothing to lose anyway.

Another issue I’m facing is a lot of people in this line already have their clients almost permanently, whereby there’s no room to give someone else a try and the referrals from these clients almost leads to a monopoly.

Another pressing issue is the fact that event planners and event halls are the best to create a work relationship with, they tend to exploit knowing you need them, take for example the event planners or halls charging the clients 15k for each bouncer and coming to tell you, that they can only pay 7k for each bouncer, now you’ll want to consider it because they tend to get you jobs very often, but at the same time, you’ve been short changed.

Also due to the above, one hasn’t been able to record a number of jobs, other prospective clients use that to judge that you’re probably not a good option,” he said.

He continued and said “There’s hope, but this is as a result of personal efforts, not the from the government, knowing the right people, in government or entertainment or economy also being in the right room of opportunities, really opportunities come, but it’s even already sold out before it matures, that’s we see people who follow the “fake it till you make it” kind of life, they eventually make it, cause one day they would be with the right person or right place that would be the major hit, we know the power of the media, so if one could find his way into the spotlight, we Nigerians love to follow trends or sympathy, one of these 3 could be what would get one out there, but from the government, it would be a really slim chance, but by personal efforts, it gets one there in some cases, in as much as I don’t want to be so African by going religious, in some cases, it’s just the grace of God, so one could have a good dream and a great idea and it end up dying within, cause we do not really have the opportunities or platforms needed here in Nigeria and also for everything you think you’re so good at, I can assure you of a good number of people even better than you, Nigeria is filled with a lot of great minds, but various factors amongst which the government falls or stand as major do not let these blossom” he added

Another economist, Olusola Jide said the get-quick mindset creates impatience in the average Nigerian youth that’s why they feel there’s no hope in entrepreneurship and it is becoming very obvious even with the way things are done in this country, from the way we drive, even from the way we eat that’s why we swallow food whole, without chewing it. The church has not helped matters. The church has created a mindset of a sudden and massive financial breakthrough after sowing seeds or going for night vigils. Young people, therefore, are not ready to wait for the long and painful process it takes for a business to grow. Aliko Dangote is said to have been prayed for by Archbishop Idahosa and that is why he became rich. However, nobody tells you that it has taken him more than 30 years of very tedious work to reach that level”

“Talking about if there’s hope for young entrepreneurs, yes there is if government can intervene on the issue of unstable electricity because it is very essential in any business, another thing is the high price of diesel for the kva generators, network providers have turned to fraudsters, because of the expensive data subscription bundles another thing is the

high exchange rate, hike in Electricity tarrif bills, Increase in price of materials,

Cost of transportation coupled with bad roads

, the list is endless, if government can tackle this issues with fast response, yes there is hope for young entrepreneurs” he added

Ayomide Olupona, an economist and political scientist argued that the innovation and technological change of a nation comes from the entrepreneurs. He opined that these individuals are the ones that make things work in the economy of the country.

He further explained that a business cannot control the macro-economic environment in Nigeria but can only operate within it, as the prevailing high inflation rate, inappropriate foreign exchange policy, high foreign and domestic debts will continue to hamper the growth of businesses except a drastic step is taken by the government.

He said, “These challenges have created problems like low demand for goods and services, rising unemployment, the rising cost of production and uncertainty in investment opportunities.

“Entrepreneurs need to pursue sound macroeconomic policies because the extent to which policymakers can establish a track record of policy implementation will influence private sector confidence, which will, in turn, impact upon investment, economic growth and individual prosperity.”

The environment is harsh; the taxes are too much on small business. However, we know that the Federal Government is trying its best though it may not be enough. Why the Small and Medium Enterprises are being hit hard is that they do not want to work together.

”In this present economic situation, only those who are networking and partnering can survive. Our people should work together. The Federal Government alone cannot do everything, the States and Local Governments should complement the efforts of the Federal Government. The Local Governments should have plans for SMEs, he added.

In the words of Sileola Abidakun, a nail tech in the heart of Akure, lamented  “I have not been able to break even. The rent is on the high side and besides, customers are complaining about the lack of electricity and are unwilling to pay for an increase in the price of our services and products,” she said.

Just opposite her shop, a make-up outlet that opened with a fanfare has closed down. It was meant to be a happening place for young ladies and gentlemen eager to look good with the latest hairstyles and up-to-date pedicures and manicures for all sexes. It was not difficult to find out the reason why the business which was thought would add more value to the business environment had to close so soon.

Kathe, a young food vendor in FUTA South Gate said “apart from the multiple obstacles i am facing, I am also competing with other food vendors who sell at lower prices, the reason why they sell at low prices is what I understand because we all patronize the same market where there’s hike in almost everything we use for cooking, including gas..it’s just government interference we need to regulate these prices in our favour,” she said.

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