Monday, 23 June 2014

Abiku businesses II


Let us recap from my last post. We were examining how unlisted non-Nigerian businesses thrive for decades in our country while their Nigerian counterparts, which began operations at the same period, are long forgotten or remain runts with lack-luster performance. A friend who read the last post called me and said I trivialized it with the examples I gave. He then began his own catalogue of comparisons I should have used: DSTV and HiTV; Sumal Foods Ltd and Okin Biscuit Ltd; Dana Air and Air Nigeria etc. It must be said that each of the moribund companies have their peculiarities for closing down and would require a thorough investigation to unearth them.

One of the factors I believe to be responsible for the abiku syndrome is how early entrepreneurs lose their hunger for more.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Abiku businesses

Abiku is a Yoruba word which means predestined to die. The word describes children who die shortly after birth. The death could occur anywhere between a few hours after birth to a year on. Families plagued with the spell of abiku or spirit-child often go through successive episodes of burying their babies before they have a child who finally stays. Indeed, surviving children are christened with names such as Durojaiye or Durotimi, which denote staying alive. The advent of medical science has however revealed that genetic and congenital factors, not some cosmic mysteries, are responsible for infant mortality. Parents are now aware of infant-exterminators like genotype incompatibility, malaria and other immunizable diseases; hence the fading of abiku from the Yoruba vocabulary. But, I need to resurrect the word.

I am not using the word in the post-natal sense, though. Instead, I want to introduce you to Abiku businesses; businesses predestined to die. Thankfully, corporate law has laid out the ‘personality’ of business entities, so I can safely use the word ‘die’. It is commonly said that 4 out of 5 Nigerian startups will cease to exist after the fifth year, but that is not my headache; we can chalk that to Darwin’s ‘survival of the fittest’. My pain is what becomes of the one surviving business. You see, after years of dreaming about a business, after hours of toiling to set it up, after navigating the treacherous economic terrain of this country and after surviving beyond the proverbial fifth-year of demise, shouldn't these businesses have come into their own?