Ibos and Business Successes

The biggest challenge of successive governments in Nigeria has often been that of youth unemployment. While governments face the embarrassment of their inability to cope in this regard, the society as a whole suffers the pains of poverty and the social vices such as prostitution and crime.

Most governments have often resorted to preaching and encouraging self-employment as an option. Success In business is however, Herculean unlike preaching it. The young Ibos, more than the rest of us have proven that though difficult, success in business in is nevertheless possible.

Long before joblessness become the source of constant worry in our nation the Ibos have often reasoned that, in most cases, it is relatively unproductive to be an employee except where you cannot help it. It is often better to employ self and perhaps others in the future; they often reasoned.

If you ever had the chance to interact closely with the Ibos you will understand that they work with certain business philosophies which though not physical are the most fundamental and inevitable business assets.

Lunching a business dream into reality demands a financial trigger known as capital. The Ibos business world has an age-long approach known as known as “service to your boss” which is designed to help an aspiring business entrepreneur to raise the capital needed to kick off his business. It is actually a deal involving a master and his servant. In the deal, the master opens a new business and hands it over to the servant to run for an agreed number of years, at the end of which the master takes over the business but rewards the faithful servant with a new business or hands over an equivalent amount of financial capital to the servant to start a business.

There has often been the debate as to which is big: the Ibo population in Diaspora or the population at home in South-eastern Nigeria? This is because large populations of the Ibo race are merchants and believe that if you must succeed in business you have to migrate away from home and from the distraction that can sometimes derail or even frustrate the effort to succeed. Thus you find Ibos everywhere under the sun, doing nothing other than their traditional passion, the business enterprise. I am among those that refuse to believe that adventure is an inborn quality of the Ibos alone. Rather, I believe that the young Ibo deliberately sets his mind for adventure prior to starting business in view of its imperativeness to the success of his business.

In other that a business transaction occurs there must be a demand for goods and this demand must be met by a corresponding supply of the desired goods. A high demand brings rapid business growth but it is usually not present in locations where suppliers already exist. Thus you find the young Ibos trader in a remote location of the world where he is assured that all the villagers will be his sole clienteles. If he must settle where other suppliers already exist, he ensures that there is room for an additional supplier to succeed. In the alternative he chooses to supplier goods that cannot be found on the counters of the other traders.

In the strange land where he settles, the local language may be strange to him. He is aware that there is no successful business without sacrifice, hard work and patience. Sacrifice sometimes comes in the form of modesty in the quality of meals taken or outright cancellation of certain meals of the day. He simply eats enough for body and soul to co-exist. The joke is often told of a young Ibo man doing business in Hausa land in northern Nigeria. The young Ibo trader lived on the remains of the meals of his Hausa neighbour everyday. The Hausa man was however; fooled when to his amazement the young Ibo man bought a big truck four years later. That is the nature of the sacrifice of a determined Ibo man who is ever dedicated to his business, rising earlier and setting later than the sun and is always there whether the business is good or dull.

The young Ibo entrepreneur has at the back of his mind that once you start dealing on a particular merchandise you have to be patient for at least three to four years during which people would have come to associate you with that merchandise. He will reason that it is better to sacrifice for a few years and later enjoy the fruits of your endeavour for the rest of your life or do otherwise and reap the opposite. He may decide not to travel home for the first few years as traveling will take away a good part of the valuable capital that can be plowed back into the business and accelerate is growth.

Like one pastor has often said: “if you are traveling to a place you have never been to, you must do things you have never done before.” In business the things you have never done are definitely getting educated with the principles for a successful business and developing the will power to apply them.

It will be observed that despite the knowledge of these principles and their careful application, businesses still fail. This is due to unpredictable factors. The young Ibo entrepreneur also knows that this is a way of life when you are in business. The same way of life also demands that you pick yourself, dust yourself and start all over.

Though business is an uncertain enterprise, business people are the richest and happiest people on earth. The young Ibo entrepreneur is also aware of this.