This is the full video of the TED talk on Igbo apprenticeship system which I wrote here. The TED Speaker, Robert Neuwirth, made a strong case and concluded thus: “And I can say with almost certainty that the Igbo apprenticeship system that governs Alaba International Market is the largest business incubator platform in the world.” The full transcript of the section of interest is below for those saving mobile credit.
So the interesting thing is that this mutual aid economy still exists, and we can find examples of it in the strangest places. So, this is Alaba International Market. It’s the largest electronics market in West Africa. It’s 10,000 merchants, they do about four billion dollars of turnover every year. And they say they are ardent apostles of Adam Smith: competition is great, we’re all in it individually, government doesn’t help us. But the interesting reality is that when I asked further, that’s not what grew the market at all. There’s a behind-the-scenes principle that enables this market to grow. And they do claim — you know, this is an interesting juxtaposition of the King James Bible and “How To Sell Yourself.” That’s what they say is their message. But in reality, this market is governed by a sharing principle. Every merchant, when you ask them, “How did you get started in global trade?” they say, “Well, when my master settled me.” And when I finally got it into my head to ask, “What is this ‘settling?'” it turns out that when you’ve done your apprenticeship with someone you work for, they are required — required — to set you up in business. That means paying your rent for two or three years and giving you a cash infusion so you can go out in the world and start trading. That’s locally generated venture capital. Right? And I can say with almost certainty that the Igbo apprenticeship system that governs Alaba International Market is the largest business incubator platform in the world.