Are you a Nigerian entrepreneur in diaspora? Do you intend starting a business in Nigeria? Do you want to know the risk factors or challenges of doing business in Nigeria? Are you interested in finding out the potentials and rewards of doing business in Nigeria?
Are you an investor looking for where to invest for a high return on investment? If any of the situations above best describe you, then please read on as I highlight the basic challenges of starting a small business in Nigeria or doing business in Nigeria.
Nigeria is a country blessed with human, mineral and natural resources. When it comes to starting a business in Nigeria; the potentials are so great that any investor or entrepreneur will be tempted to jump in with both feet without first testing the waters.
A reasonable proof that Nigeria hold huge potential for entrepreneurs and investors is the fact that we have an abundance of successful entrepreneurs who started from scratch and built massive business empires without leaving the shores of Nigeria.
I am talking about successful entrepreneurs and Nigerian billionaires such as Aliko Dangote, Cletus Ibeto, Femi Otedola, Orji Uzor Kalu, Ifeanyi Ubah and so on. The fact that Nigeria once produced the richest black man in the world further proves that there is money to be made in Nigeria; if only you understand her business terrain. The secret to the success of these Nigerian entrepreneurs is a story for another day.
Now if you are serious about starting a business in Nigeria; then I will provide the necessary down-to-earth information needed to help you successfully start and build a business in Nigeria. As expected, there are general business challenges and factors that startup entrepreneurs face all over the world but when it comes to economic and environmental challenges; it varies from region to region.
For instance, the economic and environmental factors affecting businesses in the United States of America or Canada is different from the factors affecting entrepreneurs in Africa or better still; Nigeria. So it’s based on this fact that I wrote this article to help familiarize you with the business terrain of Nigeria and how to handle its challenges.
The Cons and Challenges of Doing Business in Nigeria
1. Lack of Infrastructure
The first business challenge you will face when doing business in Nigeria is infrastructural challenge. Nigeria lacks the basic infrastructure and logistics to support entrepreneurship. If you are going to run a successful business in Nigeria; then you must have the financial muscle to provide your own infrastructure.
Take for instance you want to start a manufacturing firm in Nigeria; you will need to build your own factory, provide your own water supply and other amenities that smoothens business operations. This single factor lengthens the time frame from initial planning to full business operations when compared to developed countries that have the basic infrastructure in place. Infrastructural challenge will directly or indirectly increase your startup overhead cost so you have to properly factor in this challenge in your business plan.
2. Poor Power Supply
Poor power supply is the next challenge militating against the successful growth of small business startups in Nigeria. Successful companies operating in Nigeria has found a way to deal with the challenge of power supply by providing their own power.
For instance, Aliko Dangote; the founder of Dangote Group has developed the strategy of situating a mini power plant right next to his factories as an alternative to the erratic power supply in the company. So if you are successfully going to operate in Nigeria; then you must map out a plan to curtail the harsh effect of poor power supply.
3. Inadequate Security
Security is the next challenge you must deal with especially if you are a foreigner wanting to invest in building a business in Nigeria. But I think it’s worthwhile I add that there has been a massive step up by the government with respect to security and based on this; I can confidently say that I am impressed with the way the government is handling the security of the state. Enough said.
4. Inconsistent Government Policies
Government inconsistency is really a challenge you will have to tackle if you must succeed in Nigeria as an entrepreneur. Governance is something entrepreneurs have no control over; all entrepreneurs can do is to influence government’s policy with respect to enacting favorable business laws. But you must have political clout and massive resources to be able to influence government laws.
Now you may not have the political clout or financial muscle to influence government’s policy so the best strategy to combating the ever changing policy of the government is to keep a keen eye on government laws and swiftly adjust your business to align with the policies.
5. Transportation Challenges
The next challenge of doing business in Nigeria is the poor transportation standard. As expected; the dependable source of raw materials may not be situated close to its market. So you will have to decide if to locate your business close to the raw materials or close to your market. Either way; transportation of either raw materials or finished goods will be involved and this will pose a great challenge if you intend operating in Nigeria.
Poor transportation standard and road network is a factor militating against industrialization in Nigeria but I believe this challenge is being tackled by the government through the upgrading of roads and construction of railway lines.
6. Inability to access funds
Of all the business challenges involved with starting a small business in Nigeria; this one interest entrepreneurs the most. Inability to access funds and banks unwillingness to support entrepreneurship and small business is the major barrier to massive entrepreneurship growth in Nigeria.
However, this challenge can be surmounted if you are a die hard, creative entrepreneur. Hard core entrepreneurs are not held back by the lack of support from banks; they are not discouraged by the unavailability of startup capital.
Rather than lament over the predicament, they look for creative ways to finance their business plans and ideas. So if you are in this category of entrepreneurs; then I want to believe that your plans of doing business in Nigeria will not be thwarted or held back by the challenge of capital.
7. Lack of Governmental Support
The last but not the least challenge of doing business in Nigeria is government’s insensitivity to the plight of entrepreneurs and small business owners. And the result of these insensitivity surfaces in the form of double taxation, unnecessary levies and duties; and high cost of obtaining business licenses.
But Nigeria operates as a free economy; which favors capitalists, so I don’t think you will be discouraged by this challenge. A good strategy to balance the excesses of the government is to assemble a strong business team that will strategically position your business to withstand the ever increasing demand of the government.
In conclusion, this is my honest outline of the territorial challenges you will face when you start a business in Nigeria. I highlighted these challenges not to discourage you; but to help you prepare in advance because he who is prepared has half won the battle. Good luck.