Why Northern Nigeria Has Fewer Entrepreneurs - 2

I have defined entrepreneurship as more than just starting and running a commercial venture. For me, it means having an idea and working to implement it. That idea may be a poem, a music project, a social cause or a business idea. As long as it involves creating a new idea, not copying, and implementing the idea to bring it to reality, voila, you have an entrepreneur. An analysis of most of the new enterprises founded by young Nigerians will reveal them to be from this economic and personality class. They might come from the class of comfortable to wealthy families, yet they will describe themselves as just ordinary people working on their creative projects. To them, the money just affords them a higher platform. Matter of fact, most of their projects are not funded directly from family wealth, but from their own pockets.

Now, making a comparison between the number of creative projects in Southern Nigeria against those in the North will reveal a wide gulf. This is despite the fact that the North also has a large enough number of middle-income families to support the start of creative projects by its young family members. The answer, in my opinion, goes to the lack of individualism by these young people. For starters, the North is by far more culturally conservative than the South and Middle Belt parts. This forces kids growing in these parts to conform to the societal expectations of them, enforced by the family. As the process of discovering one’s individuality comes with great resistance even within one’s self, a conducive family environment can be a great help. Kids are then encouraged to try and fail without fear, because in the end, it is a great learning aid. But in situations where that environment is lacking, kids conform and their inner creativity is stifled. In the end, these kids play safe and do the usual things expected of them: go to school, study a ‘good’ course and get a good job. Never take risks.