I watched BET’s three-part New Edition series. It reminded me of the urban entrepreneurial scene in Nigeria – a world characterised by shaky partnerships, testosterone fueled decision making, poorly read contracts and few structured brand assets. It brought to mind that Nigeria has an HR problem.
If you’re familiar with Nigeria, by now you know that our educational crisis has led to a people crisis as well. We have very poorly trained and resourced staff. Companies trip over themselves, in a rush for the few that are highly skilled and affordable. Organisations struggle, as they take on the cost of training and then worry about their staff leaving soon after, for greener pasture.
As I study America’s unicorns (start-ups currently valued at over $1 billion), I wonder if they would have thrived without “coaches”. Coaches are the Venture Capital Firms, Incubators and older entrepreneurs who took an early interest in the start-ups and helped to shape their successes. There is no self made entrepreneur, only those who edit their stories to appear so. Just like famed sports coaches, entrepreneurial coaches have an uncanny ability to spot and develop raw talents. They match them with other talents, get them the resources they need and then arbitrate any conflicts; while forging a winning team that makes everyone rich. In Nigeria, we need coaches, not sharks and vultures. And we need more women in business.
My last statement may sound sexist, but I’ve worked with too many entrepreneurs, corporates and NGOs. There’s a positive difference when women are in the C-Suite. I don’t know if it’s the fact that women have different end goals in mind (and money is typically not the primary one), or whether they are just wired for loyalty and belief in a mission. Maybe it’s because they are more likely to fight over men than business. Whatever it is, I think Nigeria’s urban entrepreneurial scene will benefit from gender inclusiveness, as many businesses grow into large corporations.
Another thing is very few people are wired for entrepreneurship. Experts say only 1 in 10 enterprises survives after a few years. What this means is, the majority of those in the working class should work for entrepreneurs and not become entrepreneurs themselves. Therefore, HR departments in growing companies must be redesigned to reorient and integrate career types into entrepreneurial companies.
I’ve recruited a few career track professionals for business development. I observed that they are more interested in “supervising”, than in getting stuff done. But they have critical skills that are typically not homegrown by entrepreneurs. So, integration is critical if enterprises are to scale.
The employable human resource pool in Nigeria is shallow and in some cases shrinking, due to brain drain. Whoever solves the HR problem in Nigeria (becoming the bridge between growing enterprises and great talent), will create a billion Naira business.
Photo Credit: Houston Style Magazine