Nigeria in its glory is blessed in all ramifications. Apart from the gift of natural resources, one of the best gifts Nigeria has ever received is the Igbos.
These people are virtually all over the country doing one form of business or the other. It is quite impossible to visit a town or village in Nigeria without an Igbo man.
One of the major languages spoken in Nigeria is Igbo. The Igbo people are an ethnic group native to the present-day south-eastern and south-central parts of Nigeria. The Igbo homeland is geographically divided into unequal section by the Niger River; the eastern (which is the largest) and the western sections. By size, they are known as the largest ethnic group in Nigeria.
In rural Nigeria, most of the Igbos work as craftsmen, farmers, and traders. As farmers, they major in food crops such as yam and cassava. In terms of their settlement, they are highly urbanized, with the largest metropolitan areas, cities, and towns in Igboland as Aba, Abakaliki, Afikpo, Agbor, Arochukwu, Asaba, Awka, Enugu, Nnewi, Nsukka, Okigwe, Onitsha, Orlu, Owerri, Port Harcourt, and Umuahia. The Igbos share a rich cultural heritage and diversity which comes with great striking features such as the belief in the existence of gods and ancestors. They are predominantly Christians with a few worshiping as traditional worshippers or Muslims.
Having known some basic facts about the Igbo people, here are a few reasons why we believe the Igbo people are one of the most successful traders in Africa.
The culture of apprenticeship
One of the factors that has made Igbos very successful in business is the culture of apprenticeship. The apprenticeship system has helped create wealth for many people in Igbo land. It helped the Igbo to recover fast after the devastation of the Nigerian Civil War in which they lost virtually all their wealth. Many of the rich men in Igbo land like Innocent Chukwuma of Innoson Motors, Cosmas Maduka of Coscharis Motors, Chief Chidi Anyaegbu of Chisco Motors, Chief Alex Chika Okafor of A-Z Petroleum/Chicason Group, etc, went through this apprenticeship scheme.
Basically, an Igbo trader opens a shop in a big city and then after a year or two, goes home to pick a boy to join him in the business. After some years, the boy completes his apprenticeship and opens his own business. This system has helped set the Igbos on an entrepreneurial path from an early age, making them self-reliant and productive.
Resilience and hard work
Perhaps due to the competitive nature of their environment, the Igbos belongs to the most determined and hardworking ethnic groups in Nigeria. Before modern times, the level of respect accorded to an Igbo man is directly proportional to the size of his farmland or yam barn. An average Igbo man comes with a high level of resilient spirit. It is more or less like a curse for an Igbo man not to prosper.
What you see as a challenge is what an average Igbo man sees as a business opportunity. Also, they are quick to notice a problem and proffer a solution to it. They are not afraid to start small and make it big. They are ready to dedicate the better part of their lives just to learn the ropes and become successful traders in the world.
Business is all about taking risks and nobody does it better than an Igbo man. They are ready to invest their entire life savings in a business just to see it grow to the level they can comfortably eat of their labor. They are not afraid to take the world by surprise.
Someone once said this; “If you visit anywhere and can’t find an Igbo man doing business there, please run” . There are elements of truth in these statement as such a place may be economically unviable to conduct any business. All in all the Igbos have distinguished themselves as one of the finest and most successful business people in Africa.