As explained in the introduction, there are issues preventing entrepreneurial journey and positive reasons for engaging in it. The focus of this section is to let you understand these issues and reasons from the perspective of the participants of the study I explained previously.
1.1.1 Muslims’ Status and Welfare
Participants opined that Muslims are yet to see Mosque or Society beyond worshipping. They believed that in any mosque or organisation, welfare of the members should also be prioritised. To them, the Ummah are better off when their spiritual, health and wealth creation are integrated. This will go in a long way to reduce poverty among the Ummah. Maryam O., one the respondents, observed that “Not all religious organizations really care about the welfare of their members.” She added that members and organisations should stop discrimination which is associated with most welfare programmes. Rasheed T.O. pointed out that Muslim philanthropists need to help in the area of Ummah’s welfare. “Some are having cash in bank without utilising it for anything.”
1.1.2 Absence of Entrepreneurship Unit
Lack of unit dedicated to entrepreneurship in Islamic organisations was seen as the main factor for having insufficient Muslim entrepreneurs. The absence was linked to the prevalent poverty among the Ummah. According to Rasheed T.O., having the unit will help to eliminate poverty already associated with Muslims. Supporting Rasheed T.O.’s view, Maryam O. said: “If they keep uplifting religion and no entrepreneurship, the religion uplifting might not even be effective.”
Having established that there is no entrepreneurship unit in most organisations, this facilitator asked about who should start it. Should it be left to the Islamic leaders and clerics or should individual Muslim partake in its creation? Some believed that clerics should set the unit up while some were of the view that it should not be the responsibility of the clerics or leaders alone, members also have significant roles to play. Maryam O said: “If they are not ready to do it, I think we don’t need to wait for them.” To Salahudeen A., clerics are not versed in entrepreneurship development or too conservative. Mustapha I. expatiated further that, “We have to form an umbrella that will carry the flag of Islamic view on business and entrepreneurial skill development such as Dawah train to all Islamic organisations, giving them some modality that can help the future of Muslim youths.”
Despite the participants’ positions on the entrepreneurship unit, some were able to identify some organisations that are encouraging business creation. Amaddiyah and Nasfat were prominently mentioned. Amaddiyah in particular was said to have started production of Garri. Elated Rasheedat I. said: “Alhamdulillah I think we need to also start something genuinely in respective of our location.”
1.1.3 Ideological Differences and Business Orientation
From the participants’ views, business ideas are not being discussed with members at organisational level due to ideological differences and lack of business orientation. According to them, ‘Aqeedah (ideology) and Islamic views of many Muslims do not allow business interaction. Mustapha I. specifically cited levels of interpersonal relationship, overzealous of some successful business owners, religious and entrepreneurial misconceptions.
Likewise, majority of Muslims have little or no knowledge about business. The insufficient orientation eventually surfaced during the discussion when a participant said organisations do not empower their members, which he mistakenly took for entrepreneurship, when he identified Nasfat as the only organisation empowering its members. Kuku Qazeem, however, said: “Basically, Nasfat gives and builds members on empowerment programme which has stipulated period.” Facilitator later pointed out that there is a huge difference between entrepreneurship and empowerment. According to him, governments and politicians have actually failed in this regard. They focus on empowerment, giving ephemeral incentives to citizens rather than creating enabling environment for enterprises to thrive.
1.1.4 Internal and External Loci of Control make Business Creation Easier
Participants observed that they need to explore their personal traits very well for them to create a successful business. Apart from this, majority believed that Allah’s intervention is equally needed. At the internal level which was seen as personal, participants noted that strong determination, scalability and success spirit are highly needed. Rasheedat I. put it thus: “If you start with your business and you are very serious about it, from there others will emulate and also start something good. This shows that you are contributing positively to the Ummah.” She added that it is not necessary that members start big. “Start small and have a big mindset towards the business. From the smallest beginning, you grow big,” she pointed out. Rukayat A., in her contribution says: “With God all things are possible. No business is without a failure but your determination to bounce back can lead you to success.”
1.1.5 Personal Determination and Structured Organisation
Strong determination also reflected in the participants’ views when they were asked to highlight and discuss key requirements they need to kick-start their business. They submitted that determination is equally necessary at organisation level. Rasheedat I. opined that in any organisation where focus and strong determination are lacking, business creation would be difficult. According to her, there should be synergy between personal and organisation’s determination to ensure entrepreneurial pursuit of the members. Mutiu Iyanda emphasised that the Ummah needs well-structured and focused organisations towards entrepreneural development. Yusrah A. put it differently when she said, “We shouldn’t expect miracle to happen.” Yusrah A. added that material needs cannot ensure business creation. Patience to grow it also matters.
Participants also felt that in some organisations, there is favouritism when it comes to helping members. Ganiyah A. described this as an obstacle turning away some members’ requests. Facilitator however cautioned that it is not possible for members of an organisation to be rejected. What could happen is to reject non-members because it would not be an ideal thing to prioritise non-members above the registered members. The view was corroborated by Ganiyah A. who said, “Truly most religious organizations won’t favour a non-member over a member.”
1.1.6 Taking New Directions
Participants revealed that they have taken new directions in their life when situations demand it. The new directions, however, cut across living and business. Some participants have had cause of relocating to another environment for convenience. Ganiyah A. said: “At some point in time, I had to change environment.” Rasheedat I. reiterated that changing environment also contributes to an entrepreneur’s growth. Abdul Hakeem A. highlighted how he changed his business direction within agriculture sector many times with the intention of unearthing new opportunities. “I had to venture into livestock business at some point in time. But doesn’t work out. Then change direction for aquaculture,” Abdul Hakeem A. succinctly hinted. Facilitator, however, stressed that entrepreneur must know everything about something, and something about everything. According to him, this becomes imperative towards achieving sustainable growth of any business.
Beyond taking new directions in living and business activities, majority of the participants equally believed that when seeking knowledge, taking new direction also becomes handy, especially when the desired results are not attained. “I have to change my direction from my younger brethren’s experience on entrepreneur skills. He introduced me to online marketing as I am used to physical customers’ relationship alone, but I have to shift direction to the use of online values which really makes different in the business,” Mustapha I. pointed out. Mustapha believed that knowledge is power. Complementing Mustapha I’s position, Rasheedat said: “As an entrepreneur if you try a particular thing and that thing did not come out well you can change your direction may be by relocating or make a survey about what people in that particular environment lack and start working on that may be by making order for it or just do something so that you can be able to improve on your sale.
1.1.7 New Routes Inspire Creativity and Innovation
In the second discussion of the issue, participants’ deliberation shows that taking news routes could enhance an entrepreneur’s creativity and ability to innovate new products or services. Changing his previous ways of doing agribusiness helped Abdul Hakeem A. to have a greater number of particular species he has been using before but bringing low output. “I was able to get other breeds and use different method to nurse them before transferring them into the pond,” Abdul Hakeem A. said. To Mustapha I., taking new routes assisted him in rebranding his inherited conventional business model to a more modern technology of the time. Despite taking the new routes when situations warranted them by most of the participants, facilitator discovered that experiences that pushed many towards taking new routes were not documented for future reference, particularly in making decisive decisions. Abdulhakeem A. who has changed ways of doing his agribusiness many times emphasised that he only had the past in his memory not in written form, which facilitator described as orality. “You need written. Failure to do it will not help to use process tracing to identify future challenges and for the coming employees to learn from the past,” Facilitator stressed.
1.1.8 Consequences of Taking and not Taking New Routes
Taking new routes has positive and negative implications. Some participants who have taken new routes have learnt from their decisions and even created uncontested market space. They, however, contended that consistency matters sometimes. New routes should not be taken always. Doing it should be prioritised when difficult situation arises. Nana-Hawa D. said: “It is not in all situations that you should change to another direction when faced with an obstacle. Consistency works sometimes too.“You don’t need to change direction if your strategies are working. However, if you continue using same strategies and succeeding, remember others are studying you. So, you can’t hold on to particular strategies for long. Life and business are dynamic.”Ganiyah A. said: “Consistency work yes but change your approach in getting that thing you so desire. I believe that is what the facilitator is trying to tell us. Our president is a good example. I think he changed his party at some point.”
1.1.9 Trying New Foods stimulate New Business Creation, Product Development and Marketing Activities
Almost all the participants have eaten foods produced in another ethnic group or part of the country. The experiences are striking. Some ate the foods because there was no alternative or their local foods were not produced in the new environments they found themselves. “I went to Port-Harcourt I ate Igbo food which looks like dokunnu,” Kuku Qazeem said. Supporting his experience, Rasheedat I. narrated, “If you go to North, a food is called Madidi. It also looks like dokunnu but it is not.” Facilitator, however, said trying new foods will make participants curious about the way the foods were produced, which could reveal lapses in the production process. “If it affects you it will really make you curious to find out how they prepared them. Maybe there is an issue in the process leading to production.” He added that it could also be an avenue for new business creation whenever participants return to their permanent locations especially when the market is available. This view was supported by Rasheedat I. who said trying new foods matter because the ways they were produced could be replicated in own locality and leading to good results.
On getting marketing ideas from trying new foods, facilitator pointed out that it could help in gaining right strategies for converting a person into paying customer. “Try new foods and even learn how to prepare it if you are a female it is a great tactic in wooing customers,” he sermonised the participants. “Besides, trying [sic] new foods also represent your readiness to know more, get knowledge. Above all, know something about everything, everything about something.”
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