The Opportunities That Abound For The Enterprising Nigerian Youth

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The people who make the most impact are not those who had life easy for them. Think of Nelson Mandela, Abraham Lincoln, Obafemi Awolowo, Mahatma Gandhi and Steve Jobs. Even in movies, the guy with the mad skills and making things happen is usually the guy who's gone through the worst and faced the most difficulties. 

The best recipe for greatness is tough times and a man willing to go the extra mile. And we all know that living in Nigeria gives you all the tough times you need. The other part lies in your hands -- are you willing to go the extra mile?

What does it mean to go the extra mile? It is simply to follow the path less taken, to see the opportunities others are ignoring and to pursue them rigorously. It is to tell yourself that the challenges around are going to be your stepping stone to a life of impact.

As easy as this sounds, it's easy to get it all wrong. And I see this happening a lot. People who keep confusing talk with action. All the extra mile they go is in their talks. They don't do anything differently or follow a less taken path. They go to events to talk about the opportunities that abound for the enterprising Nigerian youth and share quotable quotes online.


Taking these opportunities start with a plan. Just as the bible says, there is no man who wants to build a house who will not sit, plan and count the cost. You have to sit, cut yourself out from the noise around. Take a serious analytic look at everything. Then make a plan and put the cost estimate, then ask yourself if you are willing to pay the price.

Luckily, we both live in Nigeria, so I will share my analysis as it will be valid for you.

Nigeria is a country of about 180 million people. About 120 million are below the age of 40. Unemployment rate is close to 35%. Meaning out of a population of 80 million people eligible to work, 30 million people have no work. And you know what that translates into? Lots of willing hands. Labour is almost free in Nigeria. Then if you take a good look at our corporate world, the section that should be the source of employment you will notice that almost all employment is by the government, foreign companies and one-man Nigerian businesses. The Nigerian government ensures you don't know more than you knew before joining them (there are a few exceptions). Foreign companies care more about sales in Nigeria than involving our people in the high value segment of their business. That is why Microsoft doesn't have a single programmer in Nigeria. Same with Google. What they run here is just a regional marketing arm. The serious jobs are done outside the country. And finally, one-man Nigerian businesses. The owner oftentimes have more money than brains and tries to make sure that your brain doesn't become more than the money he pays you. You get outdated equipment, processes and technology to work with. He is either never around to give the company a sound strategic leading or is too around (micro-managing) and weighing the company down.

Then if you look at the self-employed, the enterprising youths, they are all into trading, network marketing, motivational speaking, low-value businesses and manual jobs. Very few are trying to do something that builds on the knowledge we have acquired as humankind till this moment. Those into farming are sticking to 19th century methods. Those into manufacturing are using 20th century equipment and processes.

There are a lot of opportunities for the Nigerian youth who will take the less trodden path of creating something truly 21st century. Who will rise above the low expectations around him and aim for a business he can go global with. Who will put to use the body of knowledge we have acquired as humans, and do something technically and globally remarkable.


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