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How They Started: Innovative Nigerian brands

By Florence Utor
20 July 2016   |   2:01 am
Entrepreneurship has become a major buzzword in Nigeria. Youth unemployment has gone beyond just economic problem to a social problem.


Entrepreneurship has become a major buzzword in Nigeria. Youth unemployment has gone beyond just economic problem to a social problem. The clamour for entrepreneurship has yielded different approaches for tackling it, the most notable of them being skills acquisition. Mr. Kachi Ogbonna has, however, done something completely different. As much as he believes in entrepreneurship and skill acquisition, he argues in his new book, How They Started that the solution to unemployment in Nigeria must begin with a fundamental mind shift. He believes that Nigerian youths are talented enough to tap into the numerous opportunities that exist in the country, but they must first of all believe that they can.

The author is an entrepreneurship and youth consultant. From his many years of mentoring young entrepreneurs and growing startups he discovered that the ‘entitlement mentality’ and the ‘blame game’ has become about the biggest hindrance to the realization of the full potential of Nigerian youths. He insists that everyone is ultimately responsible for his or her own success or failure.

In showing how Nigeria has always been a land of opportunities, the author traces how businesses that started decades ago are still waxing strong. He also gives examples of how other businesses that were launched just about four years ago have grown to become multinationals today. Ogbonna profiled 25 innovative brands cutting across different sectors including technology, the Internet, entertainment, learning and development, manufacturing, restaurants, health and transportation.

Through these, he shows that opportunities abound in almost every sector of the Nigerian economy. His efforts in securing one-on-one interview with the founders of these brands also validate the information in the book. Each of the founders shares his own unique experience of what it takes to start, the challenges faced and how they handled them, how they funded their businesses and most importantly every one of them has words of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Perhaps for the first time, someone has embarked on the important task of documenting how Nigerian brands started in a country where there is little or no regard for history and credible data is difficult to come by. Maybe not for the first time, but in very unique way, someone has told the story of the best of Nigeria.

It is important to appreciate the difficulty the author must have passed through in selecting these 25 brands out of the 150 companies that he reportedly researched. However, the more the author attempts to list the criteria for such selection, the more questions arise as to whether these are the only 25 brands that meet those criteria. Also the fact that no company from the agricultural sector is featured means that the book is still a work in progress. It is also expected that another edition of the book would possibly be dedicated to the big brands in the banking, oil and gas sectors.

However, How They Started provides a good roadmap for producing a new generation of entrepreneurs who will run the coming global brands with roots in Nigeria. This book is recommended to both the federal government and National Universities Commission (NUC), as a manual for practical entrepreneurial studies in higher institutions.

In fact, it should form part of the General Studies’ course work to acquaint every student with vital entrepreneurial information.