Nigeria’s One Big Challenge: Building Durable Companies!

Nigeria’s One Big Challenge: Building Durable Companies!

As a former banker, one thing has puzzled me in Nigeria: lack of Continuity Management (yes succession) in Nigerian business scene; empires come and most disappear.  Many empires of 1960s went under, the ones of 1970s followed, and 1980s are history. We are hoping that the legends of 1990s – Nigeria’s finest decade of entrepreneurial capitalism will be different. How can Nigeria build durable companies like the Americans and Europeans?

In a cocktail few years ago, I had the privilege of speaking before global business leaders. My business mentor, Tony Elumelu, who continues to support, gave me that opportunity. After I finished my oration that evening, a lady came to me. She was Lady de Rothschild, the chief executive officer of E.L. Rothschild, a leading independent wealth management firm in the United States with real estate, agricultural and food interests. She gave me her card and asked me to write her. But while we were talking, she dropped a sentence: her family business had celebrated its 200th year of operation! Yes, the company was founded in 1811 and is still operating in many incarnations today.

The question: why do we struggle to have companies (in Nigeria) that DO NOT collapse shortly after the founders exit the scenes?  Besides the call for new startups, there is also a need to examine while the ramped-up rarely thrive for decades.


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