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Igbo Approach To Business Defies Conventional Business, Management Models, Thinking —Chris O. Maduka

Chris O. Maduka

Am aware that top management of major global corporations as well as some of the top business schools around the world are increasingly curious and are under studying the Igbo business model that has defied all the regular and conventional business models of decimating your competitors in the shark infested waters of competition for market share.


The Igbos actually engage in the opposite. The actually groom and encourage their competitors to grow side by side with them in what they now consider  the biggest business  mentor ship and venture capital scheme in the world. Completely Igbo engineered and developed.


Nnewi in Anambra state is the typical example of this scheme and it has also been proven to be the secret behind the smashing success story as Nnewi in Anambra by extension the entire Igboland is known for. Ofcourse,  Nnewi and Anambra in general boost of the highest per capita income than nearly all other areas in Nigeria.


For instance, we hear of Innoson motors with all his success stories, but even Chief Innocent Chukwuma has his mentor and Oga  Chief Gabros if am not mistaking whom he still stands up and yield his chair for if he walks into an occasion. These are the beauty of Igbo unique and peculiar life that was not learned from any external entity or influence. Sad that we are not sustaining this virtue and unique approach to life and living.


It is an Igbo phenomenon that most people that are secretly envious have turned into negative attribute of love money, because we let them get away with that as the Igbo  NOLLYWOOD Igbo practitioners have reinforced by their repeatedly putting out movies that depict us in the most negative light.


Infact this discussion about the Unique Igbo approach to business that has defied the conventional business and management strategy ought to light bulbs in the brains of the producers and directors, instead of being defensive and in denial. It can make a very good movie that will earn us respect for who we’ve always been.


Speaking of the Igbos, when Chief Mike Adenuga wanted to break the monopoly of the dominant  competing  network with Glo in some African countries, guess who he turned to? The young Igbo hawkers.
They were recruited and unleashed on those areas as they drove the sim cards and the recharge cards into the already dominated markets. Their street peddling served as direct sales, plus promo and advertisements all rolled into one. As they flash the products to you, the introduction of that brand and subtle brand bonding is taking place.


Another area is OPTIMIZATION. Very peculiar to the developing countries like Nigeria, especially the deprived Igbos with their civil war and blockade experience. For those who don’t realize it, optimization is simply stretching the life of an item, equipment or device far longer than the original intent and scope of the original  developers or manufacturer. The Igbos have engaged in optimization for donkey years now. Even in the medical field ordinary apprentice boy in Chemist can prove to you that a particular drug manufactured by any of the global Pharma can also be applied to certain ailments not originally countenanced by the original researchers and producers.  Same goes for all manners of gadgets. Who could believe that the Peugeot compressor will work best on the Japanese cars and save one money from always changing condensers. Why? The local Igbo AC technicians figured that out. And trust me it is working exactly as they advised. This kind of thinking will never even fly through the heads of most technicians in the so called developed world.


They stretch these things  far much more than rich economies and societies actually intended. Or finding alternative uses for those items or products. That’s part of the multi billion global used items market. That’s part of the  optimization.
It is simply that notion that necessity leads to invention.


It has been part of the curiosity of the developed world as to how businesses and individuals have been able to survive,  thrive and remain profitable in near impossible business and discouraging social environment.
So they are looking at  optimization as one of the areas that has helped these businesses and individuals  survive and compete effectively. And there’s no better place to look than the Igbos and Igboland.

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Igbo Business Model: “Apprenticeship” Largest Global Venture Capital, Gets Global Business Attention |RN

By Ike A. Offor,
The unique business model created by the Igbo enhanced by the century-old community unity or sense of collectiveness, has gained global business world equity and venture capitalists’ attention.

This business market model is based on “sharing principle”, a model that has come down centuries in Igbo culture and never seen among any other tribe in African continent. The sharing capital is given a good mentioned in the globally famed novel of late Prof. Chinua Achebe. In that world-famous novel by the late literary icon, who also was of the same tribe of the Igbo of Africa, describes how this system simply works.

alaba-market

Alaba International market

This system by the Igbo grants opportunity to those who cannot afford to start-up business or any trade in life to find someone who could train them in such skill or trade and the person or “master” will help them to set up their new trade or business.

In the “Things Fall Apart”, it was the practice in which young adult males, or newly married ones would go to an established yam farmer and ask to work free for the farmer, in return he settles the young farmer with new yam seeds. This new yam seeds become his compensation based on basic sharing principle. The great Okonkwo did get his own yam seeds from another established farmer since his own father was considered lazy and did not leave any barn of yam for him to grow from.

The interesting thing is that the same principle is mentioned in the Holy Bible among the Hebrews or Jews. It was the very same way Jacob married his wife Rachael after serving her father for a specific number of years. There was mentions of how these were used by the Jews to acquire livestocks, from which they grew their livestock business.

This system has been with the Igbo since their origin, but it has now attracted the world business venture capitalists’ attention due to its phenomenal success in places like Alaba International market cited in this video or any other markets wherever the Igbo people carry out their trades in and around the world.

The Igbo are the only tribe in the entire global that engage in such market principle of sharing. This has made the Igbo people very successful in any business they ventured into. It does not matter what kind of business, they simply apply the same principle over and over again. This also defines why they are considered a very united tribe in Africa. This sense of “sharing principle” is also how they develop their towns, build schools and hospitals for their respective communities without the help of the bad leadership in Nigeria.

Alaba-market3

Alaba International market

The Igbo communities simply either ask everyone to contribute or the affluent ones among them would willingly pool their financial strength together and provide whatever their communities need. This is why the Igbo hardly look up to the government to provide amenities for them, they rather do it themselves via collective, or sharing principles culture, which they apply also in trade or business.

This behind the scene principle that enables every successful Igbo business to grow, is based on this common principles of pooling efforts together and growing together. One wonders what else is unity or unitedness.

The Igbo apprenticeship based on sharing principle is simply explained this way. The young person who is aspiring to be a business person goes to any established or successful business person of the specific trade or business he or she is interested in and ask the person to accept him or her to serve for a specific or agreed number of years.

The “master” or the business owner, now will train this person for say five years, and after the agreed period, he or she will pay off this trainee with amount enough for him or her to rent a shop for at least one to three years and in many cases enough to even stock up his or her new shop.

Alaba-market3

Also, the master could allow him or her in most cases to do what the Igbo called “oso ahia”. This is simply obtaining certain goods at specific price from the master and selling it above the real price and balances the master his own price and he or she takes the extra profit made. These are ways the Igbo create wealth for themselves, and these ways not only sharpen their business acumen, they create also enormous wealth for them.

If you still wonder how this tribe of Igbo are able to establish business in such fast rate and succeed, this is one of their basic principles and perhaps the core principle of their success, apart from sheer hard work and shrewd hardcore business management skill based on thriftiness while growing their businesses.
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