Last night, it happened. I put a proposal to my editors in the Harvard Business Review to bring the Igbo Apprenticeship System to the forefront, and as a tested framework for the emerging economic redesign of stakeholder capitalism. Stakeholder capitalism is a construct that businesses must elevate the interests of communities, workers, and environment alongside those of shareholders.
In my village of Ovim (Abia state), we have an area dedicated to support those in need. Agbongele Ugwunta has a concentration of fruits planted by young men in the community who are tasked to plant and nurture those fruits. Any person can go to Agbongele, and harvest any fruit but never to take home. The deal is this: it is an abomination to sell any produce from that place but you are free to enjoy as much as you can.Thrice a year, male born would go and weed and also ensure the fruits are doing great.
In this time of coronavirus, coming together is key for the world. There are great lessons from African history. “Onye aghana nwanne ya”- do not leave your brethren behind. Like I tell people, it would be nearly impossible to have extremely rich Igbo traders because they win by funding competitors and dividing their market shares through the Igbo apprenticeship system. How can a man give his customers to his brethren just to ensure he does not close his shop and move to the village? You have no chance to win over that spirit in any market.
The Umunneoma* Economics will confuse any Harvard, Wharton or FUTO graduate because no textbook will teach you to go to a village, bring 5 boys to city, and within six years, give them money, assets, etc to become your competitors. But look deeper, the new global capitalist manifesto which is working to go beyond fixated focus on shareholders to considering ALL stakeholders is something that Umunneoma Economics is doing.