Since the end of the unfortunate civil war in January 15, 1970, the economy of the igbo’s has not improved, even though the igbo’s have wealthy individuals who do not seem to care what their fellow igbo brothers and sisters are passing through. Most of these wealthy men and women own their businesses individually and do not partner with anybody.
The Ladipo market debacle has raised concerns on how important it is for the Igbo business man or woman to improve his or her business to a modern type of business, which is different from what our forefathers and mothers did. This type of business is what we call buying and selling business. Most businesses are based on buying and selling but most modern businesses have a new look were most of them are well structured and provide job opportunities for job seekers.
Most of these igbo owned businesses were individually developed by the sheer grit and hard work of the igbo resilience my kins men and women are proud of having. We do not give up easily and this makes other ethnic groups in Nigeria, to be either proud of us or just show pure envy, of which unfortunately they prefer to do the later. But I believe it is time Igbo traders and entrepreneurs learn new ways of doing business, which simply put is having a well structured and organized business. Sure, we do have some businesses that are well structured and organized, but can you count them in there numbers today.
Let’s take for example a trader in ladipo market. If I were a trader in spare parts, I would attend a business management course in maybe say the Lagos Business School, and learn how to structure my business, get it organized and expand it and then use the money as a business cow to invest in other businesses I am interested in. Some of these traders are not educated but they can hire young people who majored in business administration and management in major universities in the land, and let these people assist them in growing their businesses. So many Igbo traders today make so much money and they more interested in hiring their brothers and sisters who would do “boy, boy” for them and then pay them off when their servitude comes to an end. Most of these young men are cheated and left for good when their due date arrives. We need a new ideas on how we get things done. If our businesses are well managed, we can create jobs not only for our igbo brothers and sisters but also for other ethnic groups in Nigeria and maybe, they won’t have such hatred for us as they do. It also important that we establish business partnerships with other Nigerians, so that our business interests can be protected, especially if unfortunately, we should experience what we experienced before, during and after the civil war again (God forbid). If we did these at least we won’t be having the issue of abandoned properties and seized monies.
In a business, the most important thing is the process of production and means of delivering the service. In modern business and marketing, the business owner does everything to know who his/her customer is, what they do, were they stay, what race or ethnic group they belong to, what religion do they practice, what income do they make, their lifestyle and how they want the products and services delivered to them. Do igbo traders know these? I don’t think so. They rather wait till they customer comes to them and that’s why you see them cluster in areas we normally call markets. We do not need big markets anymore. What we need are ware houses were these business people can store up their goods and well staged show rooms or “super markets” were customers can visit and see for themselves the services being offered by these businesses. Products/services are the building blocks of our lifestyles and people are the brands they buy. I use airtel and mtn a lot, people know me by that brands. My favorite drinks are coca-cola and sprite, heineken beer, lipton tea, milo. My favorite football teams are Arsenal and Enugu Rangers even though I am from Imo State. I love watching hollywood movies and American and British television. My favorite radio station is BBC radio. All these brands define me as a person. How many Nigerian brands owned by Igbo’s can we identify ourselves with today? Literally none. We are identified more with markets. Igbo’s, the time to change how we do business is now.
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