VENTURES AFRICA – Recently New York Times published an article about the increase of U.S. immigrants going back to their native countries to start up their own businesses. It is safe to say over the past decade the countries grouped in the BRICS have been fortunate to receive a brain-gain, as many of their best and brightest have seen their own countries as land of opportunities.
On one of my social media networks I spotted a comment that said “By the time Africans get featured in an article like this the gold rush will be over.” Of course you can easily interpret this statement in several ways but it spoke volumes about how Africans tend to always be last in everything.
As a Nigerian in the Diaspora I would love to go back after I finish my education to pursue my own dreams but realistically we are faced with obstacles that cause many diasporans to become reluctant to return back to Africa to start up a business. Here are my reasons why…
The Political Climate
The political climate in Nigeria is one of the number top reasons why the Nigerian Diaspora refuse to go back to Nigeria. Despite a democratic society, the political system is still full of corruption and lack of transparency.
If we compare our political history to a developing country such as Malaysia you will see some similarity as both countries received independence two years apart from each other from British rule. Even in the 1960’s Nigeria was ahead of Malaysia economically wise and had vast more natural resources. If we compare both countries as of today, Malaysia has been able to pull ahead in terms of development. In Malaysia, a person can literally start a business in less of week versus Nigeria which is 30 plus days. Interestingly enough there is an increasing Nigerian base in Malaysia. In other countries hard work can actually turn into a successful business like Chris Aire who has created a jewelry empire or Kase Lawal a well known business man in the oil sector. In Nigeria there are many businesses thriving based off their own work, but as well just as many growing because of ties these companies have with the government.
Lack of infrastructure
It is 2012 and Nigeria still does not have a stable power for companies to run businesses. Many companies in Nigeria use over 10% of their income to run power from day to Night. In other countries running power for the company is the least of one’s concern and normally amount to 1% to 2 %. Besides the power, roads are an eyesore and connectivity is still a problem among businesses. These issues have stifled Nigerians for decades who dream of building a business. Many Nigerians in the Diaspora have great ideas but are held back simply because Nigeria lacks the infrastructure to turn their idea into a viable business.
Out of touch with Nigeria
Let’s face it some people in the diaspora are just simply out of touch. They have no clue what is taking place in Nigeria and some do not even want to know. Other countries do a great job of connecting their people in the diapora to their home countries. In India a person from the Diaspora sits on parliament. Chinese have groups in the Diaspora that actually have influence in Chinese affairs. If we look in Liberia they allow they citizens in the Diaspora to vote in government elections. Yes, we can say we have “people” in the government who are suppose to handle Diaspora affairs, but what can we say they have done. We have groups in the Diaspora who are there to help Nigerian entrepreneurs invest back into Nigeria, but instead it becomes a power struggle of who will lead the group. In this area the Diaspora affairs must improve in order to create a better bridge between those in and out of Nigeria.
The comfort of being overseas
Time and time again I meet Nigerians who continue to say I want to back to Nigeria one day and it never becomes a reality. I remember jumping in a taxi cab on my way to a meeting and coincidentally the taxi driver was a Nigerian. He was telling me his journey from Nigeria and how he wishes to go back but he is just use to his routine in the US. Many people aspire to be entrepreneurs but some rather deal with the comfort of 9 to 5 rather than going back to Nigeria to deal with the headache. Nigerians who have left to go back to Nigeria get there to discover a pile of empty promises. People who said they will connect them with so and so end up being dead ends. Staying in the Diaspora may not be the ideal route, but to many Nigerians it is considered the safe route.
Despite all of these roadblocks to go back to Nigeria I am still moved by the vast opportunities to try my luck and move back to Nigeria. There are many Nigerians who have gone back and have made a successful name for themselves. Nigeria is growing by leaps and bounds ripe for development. It will be difficult to assimilate back into the country, but anything great is not easy to obtain. The challenges of Nigeria should not discourage people in the Diasporas; it should in fact encourage us to transfer our skills to build up Nigeria. As a wise man once told me, “Nigerians are walking on money; the opportunities are far too great to not see them”. I call on Nigerians in the Diaspora to migrate back to Nigeria to take advantage of these opportunities. Do not wait for the gold rush to be over tap into Nigeria’s potential.
Are you a Nigerian in the Diaspora? Are you willing and ready to return home? Or are you a newly returnee? How is your experience? Leave your comments below!