At the recent Nigerian Diaspora Global Development Conference in London, government officials and business people from Nigeria exchanged ideas and experiences with the country’s nationals living abroad on how the Diaspora can better contribute to national development.
Under the theme “Supporting the Development Roadmap for Nigeria”, the 3-day (26-28 July) event looked at the challenges confronting the country and identified areas needing the intervention of the Diaspora.
One of the identified areas is Diaspora investment in the Nigerian economy.
Dr John C. George, Ukraine-educated entrepreneur and founder/CEO of Rotex Group of companies, delivered a keynote address on his experience doing business in Nigeria. Rotex is active in the building and mining sectors.
One of his companies is Rotex Glass Limited, a distributor of components for window and door production, offering a wide range of products manufactured in Europe.
George mainly dwelled on his experience in the construction industry.
He noted that Nigerians abroad were mostly pessimistic about doing business in Nigeria than foreigners, such as Lebanese, Indians, Chinese and even Western investors.
“We see too many negatives – unreliable electricity supply, no public water supply, insecurity, corruption etc,” George noted.
“If we concentrate on these negatives, we will miss the opportunities.”
“Nigeria has enormous business opportunities if you look closely,” he emphasised.
George, a former chairman of Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation Europe (NIDOE), however made it clear that doing business Nigeria carries a lot of risks. “You have to learn how to manage these risks to operate successfully,” he advised.
He listed the mistakes that a new entrant is prone to. These include wrong perception of the market, wrong choice of partners and lack of proper understanding of the business.
George’s advice to his compatriots in the Diaspora is: Don’t be afraid of making mistakes!
But he quickly added a catch: “You can adapt to minor mistakes, but a major one may be catastrophic to the business.”
He pointed to another potential pitfall for anybody planning to do business in Nigeria.
“Don’t focus on patronage from government but on the private sector,” he warned.
George also advised that would-be investors should not overlook the necessity for the proper training of their staff, which he said was very important.
The Nigerian Diaspora Global Development Conference 2018, hosted by NIDOE, brought together Nigerians across the globe to deliberate on the state of affairs in their home country and how to better contribute to its development.