Entrepreneurial Nigeria

Photo by Nupo Deyon Daniel

Being an Entrepreneur in Nigeria is one of the best decisions anyone will ever make. Nigeria is a country of about 200-million people, so this provides a lot of business opportunities to anyone who wants to go into Entrepreneurship. Every single one of the 200 million people have needs, wants and desires and all these provides an opportunity for any business-minded individual to meet these needs, wants and desires by providing products and services.

Nigeria is a country with 36 states which are divided into six geopolitical zones (North West, North East, North Central, South East, South West and South South), all these states provide opportunities for entrepreneurs to explore. The business capital of Nigeria is Lagos which is located in the South West and the second capital is Kano which is located in the North West.

Photo by El Rufai Support Group

The world’s richest black entrepreneur comes from Nigeria, his name is Aliko Dangote and has a net worth of $12 billion. He was able to become the richest entrepreneur in Africa because of the opportunities the country presents.

“Aliko Dangote” by Forbes Africa

He was once asked by an American journalist “Why Nigeria?” and Dangote said “Nigeria is the best place to invest.” Dangote is not the only wealthy Entrepreneur in Nigeria, we also have the likes of Abdul Samad Rabiu, Chairman of BUA, Mohammad Indimi, Chairman of Oriental Energy and Femi Otedola, Chairman of Geregu Power and Forte Oil.

Though Nigeria has one of the richest black men in the world, we also have many micro entrepreneurs with a running capital of as little as $100. They do not own a shop or an e-commerce store; rather they hawk their products on the streets. There are different classes of Nigerian entrepreneurs, from startups to small businesses, medium to large businesses in different industries. Small businesses make up the majority. You can find small businesses spread across the whole country. Large businesses, on the other hand, are relatively very few, due to the fact that most entrepreneurs in Nigeria rarely operate large businesses for many reasons, such as lack of capital, lack of reliable electricity and lack of infrastructure.

Nigerian entrepreneur Photo by Ade Tunji

We tend to see more of medium-size businesses spanning across the country. This is because a lot of entrepreneurs here in Nigeria go into business without much knowledge around entrepreneurship and therefore don’t have the expertise needed to pursue big opportunities. This is not to say that entrepreneurs do not pursue big opportunities at all, but the rate at which large businesses exist is relatively small compared to other countries like United States or China.

Though I have stated more of the positive sides of going into business in Nigeria, there are a lot of Negative sides to it which make a lot of entrepreneurs unable to go into business or unable to grow their business. These negative sides include lack of capital flow, lack of constant electricity, lack of skilled labor force, lack of availability of raw materials and corruption in the government.

However, in entrepreneurship problems are the stepping stones that leads to opportunities. For example, when Aliko Dangote (The Richest Black Entrepreneur in the World) was building his first Cement factory located in the North Central of Nigeria, there was absolutely no roads, electricity nor security in the location and so he had to generate his own electricity, build roads and bring in the necessary security to safeguard his factory.

This is the story of virtually every entrepreneur in Nigeria who intends to build a large factory for mass production, this is why very few Nigerians are able to open large businesses. Also even small and medium size businesses have got to use generators as a means of electricity generation. Another obstacle is the lack of available capital, most entrepreneurs in Nigeria finance their businesses through savings or loans from family and friends.

This is why you find almost 70% of Nigerians go searching for jobs rather than go into entrepreneurship, because not everyone can bare the challenges. Most times people at the top of the government are responsible for these challenges, because they prefer to explore these opportunities for themselves and therefore make it difficult for others who are not in their circle.

Aliko Dangote (Chairman of Dangote) and Femi Otedola (Chairman of Forte Oil)
Photo by Dangote Refinery

This is not to say one cannot go into entrepreneurship but this is just a glimpse of some of the negative sides of entrepreneurship, you have to have your own capital, generate your electricity, train your employees and depend wholly on yourself and then the sky will be your limit.

Nigeria is yet to witness the kind of entrepreneurial transformation we see in countries like USA, China, UK, and India. These countries have been able to harness their entrepreneurial potential and have been able to achieve development through entrepreneurship. Nigeria has the potential to become a developed nation, and entrepreneurship is the surest path, because most entrepreneurs in Nigeria operate within industries that have low barriers to entry.

Most of the products used in Nigeria like electronics, gadgets, clothing, automobile, furniture and kitchen utensils are imported into the country. Virtually 99% of all cars, electronics and gadgets used in Nigeria are imported.

And the funny thing is that most products that are being manufactured here in Nigeria on a large scale are from companies owned by foreigners with Nigerians as shareholders. For example, the largest tomato farm in the North West of Nigeria (Kaduna State) called Tomato Jos is owned by a female American/Indian. Her name is Mira Martha and she came all the way from the USA to start a tomato farm and she is doing absolutely great. She too had to go through generating her own electricity, build new roads, train her employees and provide optimum security.

Mira Martha (Founder of Tomato Jos)
Photo by TomatoJos

These are some of the opportunities and challenges that entrepreneurs in Nigeria face, the successful entrepreneurs are those who were able to take these opportunities and overcome the challenges. Anyone who wants to be an entrepreneur in Nigeria and is ready to overcome these challenges will surely have a ready market awaiting.



  1. Thank you for sharing how things are done on your continent. It’s good to see how we live and work in other places.

  2. Thank you for this! Insight into other cultures’ approach to life is expanding and hopeful. Innovation is inspiring and to have a glimpse of what that is looking feeling like in Nigeria is lovely.

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