POSITIONING NIGERIAN STARTUPS AS A MEANS TO DIVERSIFYING THE COUNTRY’S ECONOMY

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In the past few years, entrepreneurship in Africa’s largest economy (Nigeria) has become manifest more than ever before owing to the establishment of startups across various sectors of the economy. These new companies are mostly owned by some of Nigeria’s teaming, unemployed youths who must earn their living somehow in the face of unemployment. Interestingly, most of these startups have recorded amazing success stories. As the Programme’s Committee Chairman for the 2015 Annual Conference of the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers told The Sun, the activities of these startups immensely contribute to economic growth; giving hope that [perhaps] the future will not be as bleak as most people fear.

Unfortunately however, these small scale enterprises do not get the needful encouragement that will spur them to continue with the
cushioning effect they provide for the economy. For most of these startups that operate in hitherto unexplored or downright unconventional venture areas, they deserve special attention which unfortunately they do not get. Instead, the attention has continually been on traditional businesses- Banking/Finance, Oil and Gas and to a lessening
degree Agriculture. Little or no attention is given to emerging sectors in filmmaking, music production/marketing, hospitality/tourism, fashion, craftsmanship and other creative industries. This situation does not augur well for the country as it more
or less discourages the entrepreneurial spirit in young. Now this does not have to be the case. There is need for lots of changes in the way we treat emerging enterprises in this country.

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How then could the identified problem be solved? The solution is simple- Nigerian startups deserve as much sponsorship and exposure as they could possibly get. The sponsorship should come in the form of financial aids/grants and even [uninhabitable] loans which should help ease the costs associated with running new
companies. In the same vein, the media need to report more about the activities of startup companies across various sectors of the economy. The news stories should profile these young Nigerian CEOS who make everyday all-important decisions to keep their businesses afloat even in a system
that does not exactly favour them. This is important because not only would startup ventures be given the needful publicity they deserve, it will also serve as an opportunity to encourage more entrepreneurs to unlock the entrepreneurial skills in them. This is because by reading the success stories of people like Mai Atafo, Uche Eze and Kunle Afolayan for instance, many more unemployed youths will be spurred to participate in what can best
be described as a “movement in the right direction”.

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Now it should be noted that this is not to imply that Nigerian
entrepreneurs have not received any form of help. It is after all common knowledge that a bank like Fidelity Bank and a few others continually demonstrate genuine efforts to ensuring entrepreneurial wellbeing in the country. The point however is that the existing help (assistance) has just not been enough. For an economy whose mainstay is on the brinks of collapse due to falling global crude oil prices, the focus should
indeed shift from the traditional sectors of the economy to emerging markets. There is no gainsaying the fact that it is high time we positioned the Nigerian economy to become a global player. But there simply is no way
to do that without vibrant, functional and highly-equipped entrepreneurs.

Therefore, special attention should be given to entrepreneurs in the country. Enabling environment should be provided for them and the right assistance given. We should recall that all of the biggest players in the world of global economy all started from the bottom. The relevance of startup companies and general entrepreneurship in any economy should never be undermined.

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~Emmanuel Benson
*This is NOT a sponsored post.

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