Nigeria is a country known globally as a petro-economy, but one that in reality is a country of small business people. Nigeria’s entrepreneurs collectively power Africa’s largest economy, generating almost 50% of its GDP and employing 60 million people—roughly 84% of its labour force. Yet high borrowing costs, multiple taxations, currency volatility, infrastructure shortfalls, and red tape all make doing business in Nigeria exceptionally difficult.
Nigeria government programs meant to help small businesses are awash with red flags. They have a history of misconduct and an ineffective track record. Many appear to have lost touch with the very same entrepreneurs they should be helping, like the tireless traders of Balogun Market.
On track to be the world’s third-most populous country by 2050, Nigeria needs to rein in this kind of corruption so small businesses can get the help they need to help power its economy and provide the jobs its rapidly growing population desperately needs.
To make this happen, Nigeria’s leaders must also do more to address the range of other obstacles—including their own policies and missteps—that make it one of the most difficult places in the world to do business. Instead of opaquely spending even larger sums to offset these challenges, the government should step back and ask how it can do no harm.