Is Funding an Entrepreneur’s Biggest Problem?

What is an entrepreneur’s greatest problem? This item has formed the heading fo some many entrepreneurship questionnaires around the globe. In polls I have been privy to, either as a participant or as a facilitator, which were taken at different times, I am always appalled to see funding top the list. I know that funding is a challenge in business but would-be entrepreneurs have placed funding on a pedestal that it does not deserve to be. During facilitation I have come across people who think that if they have funding they would change the world in 80 days (trying out my literary rhyming skills). This makes the question, “what is an entrepreneur’s biggest problem?” very important.

Let me digress. I came upon the picture below of a woman beating the odds of a riverine location to still produce, market and distribute bean cakes. She got herself a canoe! Continue reading “Is Funding an Entrepreneur’s Biggest Problem?”

What Female Entrepreneurs Have that Male Entrepreneurs Need

It made for a startling discovery when I discovered (data –driven, off course) that there is a marked difference in the attitudes of female and male Small Business entrepreneurs. In the course of monitoring and supervising participants who were writing their business plans I was hit with a stark variance between both sets of entrepreneurs. This character trait, although seemingly insignificant, eventually cascades into how they run their business and then extrapolates into their businesses success.

This study was undertaken within a six-month period in the Enterprise Development Centre where I facilitate business courses. Data revealed that despite the fact that the Entrepreneurship Development Centre had an average male to female enrolment ratio of 65: 35 I found out that the actual submission of business plans by participants was slightly ten percent higher for females. (See Figure 1 below) This revelation made me look further and I unearthed the following attitudes which women have that men need.

Figure 1: Participants’ Enrolment and Actual Business Plan Submission in percentages

So what do womenpreneurs have that menpreneurs lack?

I crafted out a list that you may not necessarily agree with but it is the result of more than six months of diligent research and findings. And they are…

1.   Pride in lowly jobs:

I was in a vehicle moving from Ojota to Ojuelegba along the ever bustling – never sleeping – Lagos mainland when my attention was drawn to the traders hustling – no eking out – their daily sustenance by the side of the road and guess what? You know already, women were 80% on the side lanes having makeshift tables and selling without an iota of shame.

It is worthy of note that this figure changes drastically when we compare male to female vendors who roughshod life on the busy Lagos roads with their wares on their head then the figure drastically changes.

However, this variation may not be unconnected with the hazards of on-the-road hawking of goods and the Lagos state directive banning this economic activity. Moreover, this set of sellers is usually younger persons between the ages of sixteen to twenty unlike the earlier scenario (roadside sellers)

Figure 2: Percentage of male to female roadside sellers

2.   A Driving Force:

Something drives both men and women, but what drives women is more fitted to micro-businesses compared to men. Our dreams are big along with the engines that drive us, but the truth is that the informal sector of the economy contributes more than 50% of Nigeria’s Gross National Product (GNP)1 and more women have rolled up their sleeves to work in this sector.

3.   Grit & Resilience:

I brought this (and the above issues) to the focus of my colleagues when I asked them in January if they noticed that more women stuck around in our offices than men? Pardon me womenfolk but let us be frank, more men know how to operate a computer and use Microsoft Office than women but the persistence of women means that they stick around and finish their business plans with computer software tools that they are not overly familiar with. The men? They pop in and out and fizzle out, usually never completing their plans.

4.   Persistence:

It is the women participants who usually stay a longtime after classes have closed to work on their business plans. Yes, some of them have husbands and children to attend to but somehow they find the time to do something they know is important to the success of their enterprise. For six months I don’t recall seeing a male participant doing “overtime”.

Source

1 http://www.phillipsconsulting.net/files/informal-economy-survey-report-nov-2014.pdf

Continue reading “What Female Entrepreneurs Have that Male Entrepreneurs Need”

Nasty Women: Launching a Successful Revolution.

nasty-woman

The title of this article should not put you off from reading it and neither should it imply that it is against the crusade of women to take over the world. It was titled such to capture the minds of people using the now popularised words of Donald Trump who labeled Hillary Clinton a “nasty woman” and unfortunately, inadvertently gave high-achieving women a rallying cry. It also happened at a time when another president consigned his wife – yes, his wife and not ours – to the kitchen, the living room and the other room ( I don’t know what the other room mean but lots of people have been very creative with it.) This article is a look at what women are doing, what they are thought of doing and what they could do to achieve lasting, painless results.

Tuesday, 9th of March, 2016 was International Women’s Day and, of course, it was celebrated with pomp and pageantry. Women all over the world gathered together to affirm the strength they get from being together. I didn’t attend any of the conferences but I can predict some of the hot topics discussed that day to include – The Girl Child Initiative, Violence Against Women, Gender Parity and Feminism. Women all over the world are shouting and we are hearing them.

As with all movements, everyone is joining the bandwagon so that they will not be left behind and their voices – and products – shunted out. Unlike everyone, I am sitting on the side-lines, arms folded with a smug smile on my face!

In a bid to push forward the women agenda, women, as well as the men, are pushing the women propaganda which is that “the end justifies the means”. To these women activists, women have suffered for too long that any means that can snatch them away from centuries of male-dominance will suffice.

I read a Time article by Christina Hoff Sommers – 5 Feminist Myths That Will Not Die – that discredited some hugely popular myths making the waves in women activism circle. These five misconstrued assertions are;

MYTH 1: Women are half the world’s population, working two-thirds of the world’s working hours, receiving 10% of the world’s income, owning less than 1% of the world’s property

MYTH 2: Between 100,000 and 300,000 girls are pressed into sexual slavery each year in the United States.

MYTH 3: In the United States, 22%–35% of women who visit hospital emergency rooms do so because of domestic violence.

MYTH 4One in five in college women will be sexually assaulted.

MYTH 5Women earn 77 cents for every dollar a man earns—for doing the same work.

Ms. Sommers posited that these were all false; some outright falsehoods while others were not placed in a fair context. I have no desire to put down the above arguments because it won’t do any good. Women have brutalized by men and we will do well in trying to provide justifications to not pick holes.

Is there a global gang-up against women? Are they targets for mass suppression by the ruling male caste? Are women deliberate victims of the mistakes of the foolish, philandering male? I will answer a capitalized “NO!” for the four questions raised and many more that Women Rights groups throw up on our faces.

We have known it is said that “It is a man’s world” but what is left unsaid is that “this man’s world revolves around the woman!” From the days of Kings to Presidents, women have been pawns, yes, but they have more often than not been the real power behind the throne. Just like every scheming man, these women when caught do find their throats at the edge of a sword, or crudely axe, but so did men. Even Shakespeare understood this when he wrote Macbeth and of Lady Macbeth.

Women have suffered at the hands of men, from rape to physical abuse to disenfranchisement but these actions were although vicious but not deliberate and should be put a stop to. However, I know that there was no convention where all men came together and voted resoundingly that the next “item” for extermination, or at best suppression, was the womenfolk. Men have failed themselves and when they did they inadvertently failed the women and children. But the first person they failed were themselves.

Women need to plead their cause and as vehemently as possible. Women need to have years dedicated to this cause and not just a day but women need to know that men failed them because men failed themselves. We still love them like we do our children but when we are incapable of loving our own selves well how then can we love our women and children? Our problem is not a deliberate scheme to do them wrong but deeply held errors that affect everyone near us, even our dogs.

But in pursuing their cause women should not burn the bridge and push men to the wall, like we pushed them (women) to the wall. Because we failed does not mean that our women should fail too. We failed because we refused to listen, find a middle ground and tell ourselves some home-grown truths. Women should, in putting their feet to the ground, listen, find middle grounds and tell themselves the truth. The means have never justified any end and won’t start now. Women need to show us that they are better than our male ego not only in words but in deeds. They should realize that this is not attrition for supremacy neither is it a cause for revenge.

How should women do this?

By accepting that male and female complement each other. Not one can do away with the other.

This year is the year of the woman. Last year was also and next year and the years to come will be. This is women arising era but if women are seeking to show that they are better – which may or may not be true – then their objective is doomed not in achievement but in sustainability. They will throw us up into a vicious cycle.

By fighting their cause without resorting to lies and half-truths:

When a deliberate lie is found in an argument there is every tendency to discredit the whole. People are questioning the veracity of some statements like the ones listed above and more people will continue to. Women liberation is an emotional campaign and emotions are always associated more with subjectivity than objectivity. Half-truth may take them there but it will not keep them there for long.  It may make women win the war but will not make them victorious.

By being humble in their assertions and push:

I hardly find anyone that listens to and agrees with a proud man. Not because he is not making sense but because everyone wants to dent his over-sized ego. Funny enough, this is where I think women will lose ground. When are say “humility” I am not talking of cap-in-hand, I-come-begging kind of humility. Rather, I am talking about women not lapping their victory in our faces and telling us to go locate hell. Nothing depicts a strong victor as one who in victory is still humble. Are women taking over or do they want to share space on the podium? If they have the mind of sharing the podium, that is accepting that male and female are same then they will manage their forthcoming victory with a sense of humility but if they have the mind of the former then we may be discussing other outcomes.

By not adopting the “Things Fall Apart” method where women become – bulls – in the china shop.

Permit me to heave a stanza from the poem The Second Coming by W. B Yeats, popularised in these parts by Chinua Achebe’s book Things Fall Apart. It reads –or sings;

Turning and turning in the widening gyre

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.

We don’t have to take victory for victory sake. We take victory because we need it to better pursue a just and collective cause. Some countries took victories from the “colonial masters” when they didn’t need it and their children have found themselves wishing that their parents had not been so hasty. Power corrupts – Men can testify to that – I hope women have a cure for that malaise. In their victory who wins? Only women? The world? Who loses? Their children? Stability? Women need to ask themselves these questions. It should not stop them from “taking over” powers but it should make them prepared when they “take over” powers.

By persevering and continuing; Great things start small and take time.

We may say let’s wait until women win this fight but from all angles, they have cornered some victory and we need to see what they do with it. And no, this does not postulate that they should not be given equal rights because they have not shown competence with the duties handed over to them. I am advocating that if women show us that they are the better alternatives by maximizing and leveraging on the victories they have achieved then they can be sure of speedier victories.

of nominations and awards

Late yesterday Time magazine announced their Person of the Year 2015 and it turned out to be Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany. With that she became the fourth woman to win that honour solo since Wallis Warfield Simpson (1936), Queen Elizabeth II (1952) and Corazon Aquino (1986). I will call this another victory for the feminists. Some reasons attributed for her getting this accolade include championing Europe’s policy towards refugee migrant crisis, the Greek debt crisis, her stance against Vladimir Putin’s creeping theft of Ukraine and for her moral leadership amongst others. Donald Trump, a finalist, had something to say about it via twitter

Donald J. Trump ‏@realDonaldTrump  18h18 hours ago

I told you @TIME Magazine would never pick me as person of the year despite being the big favorite They picked person who is ruining Germany

4,640 retweets7,866 likes

he definitely was not pleased about it and neither am I. Unlike Donald, my displeasure is not about who won but about who was not nominated.

First, I know the racism card would work here very well but I am not going to tow that path because I am a half-believer of racism. Time’s Person of the Year award 2015 pontificated about solvers of problems that have crystallized and not solvers of issues before they become problems. Before I reveal who was missing from Time’s nomination let us look at the other finalists. Continue reading “of nominations and awards”

A Day with Twitter Trolls

I have the knack of testing people’s resolve by being an opposition. I have the belief that it helps strengthens my own belief system by purging untested arguments while giving my counter party food for thought. On Monday, November 23, 2015, I did my thing by trying to see reason with religious fanatics because this has been a research case study; trying to understand the line, the thin line, between fanaticism and spirituality. I argued my case briefly with a social media personality and all was well. However, I was not testing wills that same Monday, but was staunchly in support of an issue but the unfortunate omission of a word perpetuated by working under the constraint of having to write within 140 characters brought me to fore with twitter trolls and the vengefulness of social media. That morning, I had even skimmed through an article on what not to write or do on social media unaware that in less than one hour I would be the centre of a circusian attraction.

I tweeted in reply to someone’s tweet; “I don’t know why rape – unconsenting sex  – is treated like a taboo and not consenting sex with multiple partners? Twisted world!” Continue reading “A Day with Twitter Trolls”

Business, An Art of War: a business adaptation of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War

The striking similarities between War and Business are exposed in this e-book by the business author, Airende Emiaghe. In this blog we will have a glimpse at the book through the first two chapters. If you find it interestin,g you may request for the whole book FREE by commenting or critiquing this first two chapters on the blog. This offer is for the first 50 persons.

CHAPTER ONE: PLANNING

Airende Emiaghe says:   Assuming business to be an art of war is vitally important for the success of any business concern.

Business is a matter of life and death, although very few people consider it to be so to their own undoing. It is a battle between servitude (paid employment) and freedom (entrepreneurship). Understanding and realizing it should be our topmost priority.

There are 5 factors to consider when making business decisions prior to setting up your business and whilst executing it;

(i) Moral Law   (ii) Heaven   (iii) Earth   (iv) The Commander   (iv) Method and Discipline

The Moral Law guides the morality of our choices and decisions in business.

Moral Law is the law of unity of purpose between the business man and his passion which becomes his business. Between indulging in business practices that weighs heavily on the pockets and on the conscience.

Heaven signifies economic conditions that are outside the control of the business owner.

Earth signifies economic conditions that Continue reading “Business, An Art of War: a business adaptation of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War”

Paid Employment and the Servitude Relationship

Paid employment is working for salary. The salary may be paid at stipulated times such as hourly, daily, fortnightly or monthly. The world has taught and conditioned our young children that you go to school, get good grades, graduate, get a job and get married. This mindset is inculcated into our young ones from a tender age; parents say it, teachers repeat it, the society reinforce it and life conditions it. It has been taken that a well-paying job is the climax of good parental upbringing when in reality it is the antithesis. All over the world, people who have been able to revolt against this mentality have found themselves taking the economic world by storm. They broke away when they dropped out of school, a comfort zone, to face business realities. They broke away before the world was able to concretely enforce the paid employment mentality into them. These break-aways are young either physically or at heart. Pearl S. Buck confirmed this by saying that, “the young do not know enough to be prudent, therefore they attempt the impossible, and achieve it generation after generation.” Continue reading “Paid Employment and the Servitude Relationship”

Boko Haram: Our Contributions

I am lapsing into depression, the second time after my first and only experience in 2001. I have tried to resolve it by changing any radio station that is airing the news that 200 teenage girls were abducted just today in the Northern state of Borno by the Boko Haram insurgents, who only yesterday, claimed an official estimate of 71 fatalities with more than 200 injured. And official reports are always grossly underestimated in Nigeria. How did we come this far down the cesspit of callousness? How did we fall into a deep sleep that we didn’t know that the house we built or that we are trying to build is being destroyed. Calumny, accusations and counter-accusations are now the order of the day. They have never helped us and will not start now.

They say Boko Haram is faceless, is that true? Continue reading “Boko Haram: Our Contributions”

GDP Rebase, The Optimism

So many events generate so many diverse reactions in Nigeria and when you think you are done with one another steaming event crops up and you are caught in the eye of the gossip storm. On Sunday, April 6, 2014, Nigeria rebased her GDP from the primordial date of 1990 and the ensuing reactions from Nigerians have been as predictive as usual; “whats in it for me?”

GDP or Gross Domestic Product is the total value of goods and services produced in a country within a specific period of time. GDP rebase, according to The United Nations, is the process of replacing present price structure (base year) to compile volume measures of GDP with a new or more recent base year. Countries rebase their GDP regularly to get a recent view of how their economy is faring. Nigeria lagged behind for 23 years. Continue reading “GDP Rebase, The Optimism”