There was so much excitement in the air several months ago when news filtered in that renowned global brands such as Wal-Mart, Woolworth et al were coming into Nigeria to do business.
However it appears the duo of Wal-Mart and Woolworth are struggling to thrive in the profitable but shark infested business climate in Nigeria. There are strong indications that the aforementioned retail chains are set to pull out of Nigeria due to what they called ‘unfavorable business climate’. They particularly cited ‘high rent, low power supply, delay in clearing goods at the Ports, corruption’ amongst others as some of the factors militating against doing business in Nigeria. Despite inherent challenges and risks, businesses are still flourishing in Nigeria and declaring enormous profits year in year out. One is beginning to wonder if these guys did their research, due diligence very well before ‘porting’ to Nigeria?
This development does not augur well for Nigeria’s much bandied quest, hype for Foreign Direct Investment. Job losses will ensue as a result of this and this will also impinge on Nigeria’s credibility/image abroad.
Recall that the recent World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking Index ranked Nigeria at 131th out of 185 countries polled. Nigeria also ranked 135th position for irregular payment and bribery amongst others. This is not the time for finger-pointing and blaming phantom enemies. Nigeria’s Ministry of Trade and Investment and the Nigerian government must as a matter of urgency, address the concerns of these companies.
A few words of advice to Wal-Mart, Woolworth and other prospective foreign investors who wish to do business in Nigeria. There is no gainsaying the fact that investment opportunities abound in Nigeria. However you may have to temporarily put aside all the theory-based lecture demonstrations you chalked up in top-notch foreign MBA Business Schools. Business-wise, there is some nitty-gritty to be distilled, gleaned from old hands here and from the streets, nook and cranny of Nigeria than from how-to-books or armchair statistical projections. Like they say, every business has some innate secret. Don’t dabble into a business just because you hear someone else is raking in profits from it. Learn the ropes!
Doing business in Nigeria is not for the faint-hearted nor is it for sissies. You MUST be tough-minded and resilient. It’s a big jungle out here!