To be honest, when I left I had a feeling I wouldn’t be back for a while. October 16th 2009 I left the UK for a *holiday* and well the rest is history. At first it was extremely hard to adjust to the people, the air, the customs, the light(electricity), the traffic and everything Lagos throws at you. After sobbing about it for a while, one day I just made a decision to make the most of it and I haven’t looked back since. Adjusting became much easier after this. I started looking at the country and life in general from a different angle. I started asking why. Why are we so behind? Like were we sleeping when the British were building cities and economies that the world would thrive on. An I honestly think that’s the only problem we as Nigerians have – the Inability to ask why. If we got to the grassroots of problems instead of just complaining about them we might actually start finding some solutions.
University was a big step for me, in fact one of the biggest so far. I started getting some answers to some of my questions. Mixing with people from all sorts of backgrounds opened my eyes to our countries potential. The truth is Nigerians are willing to try new things and they have the money to spend. Sometimes it baffles me that some have so much and yet so many have so little. I guess that’s one of the major differences between the UK and here. With no welfare and minimal credit offerings there’s a large gap between the rich and the poor with a very thin bridge of opportunity between them, But the bridge is there.
University also exposed me to our countries downfall the fact that we are not willing to work together. With a variety of different tribes the three major ones are The Hausas, Ibos & the Yoruba’s. It’s funny how they don’t get along with each other and have become accustomed to an array of stereotypes with no factual evidence e.g. “the Ibo’s like money” and the “Hausas are all illiterate” . Back in the UK I can’t remember noticing the difference between mine and an Ibo family – we were all Nigerian.
I have always been a keen entrepreneur and University in Nigeria was the perfect opportunity to really find myself. My first venture was a fashion magazine. It was an absolute flop; the printing was horrible and sales was even worst. However it inspired me to find out a little bit about the print industry for myself. This opened doors to a whole new dream. Soon after other students started asking me to help them design & print publicity materials. Before I knew it we were a full blown media company discussing getting an office and buying equipment. I hooked myself up with a partner and things have been moving 100mph ever since.
Business in Nigeria really comes down to leveraging your network. I’ve managed to get a few of my University friends to introduce us to their parents and other family running or working in large organizations. Through these connections we’ve managed to secure some really large contracts and build up our portfolio with reputable clients. Asides printing we pioneered a professional Graduation photography service. Started in my University and were currently expanding to a few more this year.
Starting a business in Nigeria is twice as hard but also twice as easy. With our exposure to western civilization its really as simple as analyzing our problems and figuring out a way to solve them. Coming in from the diaspora just helps us think outside the box. If people like you and me continue to come back and invest in Africa she has the potential of one day being like the countries our parents fled to. That’s my dream.