Nigeria’s enterprising five-to-nine work ethic

Nigeria’s enterprising five-to-nine work ethic 

Onitsha in Nigeria has one of the world’s biggest markets. Nigeria has Africa’s largest economy. It is mostly known for oil, but that wealth has not trickled down. As it joins the global economic top table, what kind of businesses and businesspeople are thriving in Africa’s most populous nation?

“You’re supposed to hold something,” I was told. “Hold what?” I replied naively.

“A sample, you’re supposed to hold a sample of what you’re selling.”

Amaka was wondering what a reporter holding a microphone was doing hanging around Onitsha’s main market, neither buying nor selling. She looked at me with pity, as if to say, “if you don’t even know about samples, you have a lot to learn.”

I had been at the market for less than five minutes, and someone was already trying to get the measure of what my business was about.

There’s plenty to learn about Nigeria in Onitsha, a city in Anambra state on the banks of the River Niger in the south-east of the country.

Something like three million people flock here every day, and some call it the biggest market in the world. They come from across the region, to buy everything from high-end mobile phones to low tech plastic containers.

What’s your side hustle?

Everything is for sale, every price to be haggled, and everyone is involved. Take the market and replicate the buying and selling across millions of homes and offices across Nigeria.

Every Nigerian is familiar with the concept of the side hustle – a business on the side. This is a country where everyone has a start-up in their front room, including my mother.

I’ll never forget coming home from school to find the entire living and dining area stacked floor to ceiling with cartons of sunflower oil for sale.

It was my grandmother who’d taught my mum that if you were lucky enough to have a salaried job, that was just pocket money. The real money came from your five-to-nine, not the nine-to-five.

On the surface, Nigeria may not seem like a country that can teach the world much about how to do business…………….Continue reading: 

By Nkem Ifejika

BBC Business reporter.

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