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Why Most Businesses In S.E Nigeria Did Not Survive After The War

Business In South East Nigeria

Though the poor economic management at the national level took its toll on many Nigerian companies of the 70s, one can point to some privately-owned companies in the North and West from the 70s still trudging on. This brings us to the question, what then really happened to companies founded at the same time in South East?

Since the end of the Nigerian – Biafran war, the South-Eastern part of Nigeria has produced many successful industrialists. These individuals aggressively rebuilt the region that was marred by war. In Nigeria in the 70s, South East Nigeria took over the transportation industry, the manufacturing industry, and the commerce. They built family empires. It became common in the region to see companies bearing the names after their founders – like, Emeka and Sons Nigeria limited. However, most of these companies did not survive beyond a generation.

During a business discussion in a Business In South East Nigeria Forum, a majority believed that the sudden business boom in the post-war South East was evidence of survival instinct. They argued that most businesses founded in the economically handicapped South East were hastily and accidentally formed without proper visionary thought, foresight, scenario analysis, and proper study.

They also considered the level of education of those business actors. What other indirect training and/ or mentorship did the post-war South Eastern Entrepreneurs receive?

Again, most post-war South Eastern entrepreneurs isolated their children from the day-to-day running of their businesses. There was no intentional grooming of a successor. The children that would have continued their father’s trade ended up with degrees that have no direct impact on the family empire. And by the time the next generation took over, they run the empire to the ground. There was also the sentiment that some political decisions till today cause business frictions in South East.

Whatever the factors were, it is quite unfortunate that most business empires in post-war South Eastern Nigeria did not outlive their founders. And Business owners in South East need a proper study of the past to avoid a reoccurrence.

Ozii Baba, a TedX Speaker, is an Onitsha-based storyteller and social entrepreneur. He works directly with children and young people.

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