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The Igbos are certainly one of Nigeria’s three major ethnic teams in a rustic of about 200 million. Based mostly in Southeast Nigeria, this industrious and acephalous group has attracted a variety of consideration from analysis in recent times. Most of it has centered on the success of Igbos in artisanal enterprise and casual coaching. Now their apprenticeship system has change into a speaking level.
A lot of the analysis on the Igbos’ success in enterprise has been by way of the standard cultural lenses of anthropology and sociology. My co-authors and I’ve sought to maneuver past these cultural frames to a enterprise and administration lens – notably entrepreneurship.
I’ve been learning Igbo entrepreneurship since 2008. In my earlier article, my co-authors and I drew the illustrative case of Nnewi tradition. That is an Igbo enclave in Southeastern Nigeria famend for its excessive incidence of productive entrepreneurship. It’s famous for its automates and manufacturing companies, which on the time of our analysis had solely acquired restricted analysis consideration.
Virtually a decade later, I co-authored a paper which highlighted that the “casual apprenticeship system supplies entrepreneurial studying that prepares the youthful technology to take to enterprise as a lifestyle.”
The function of household affinity and networks in enterprise has been noticed throughout geographies. The usage of household networks this manner makes important contributions to the financial progress of countries.
To know higher the impact of those household networks, my co-authors and I interviewed 25 Igbo entrepreneurs to seek out out what constituted the catalyst for the enterprise mannequin.
In regards to the research
Our analysis identifies the important thing variables related to trans-generational enterprise legacies and succession. The Igbos, like most different indigenous teams, consider in sustaining a legacy of not simply their language however different values, customs and norms. Particularly, for the Igbos, enterprise continuity appears paramount as a method to making sure that there are trans-generational enterprise legacies.
The research additionally highlighted salient Igbo cultural and group nuances. These embrace the function of Di-okpara (first son), Umunna (sons of the land), Ikwu (members of a kindred) and Umuada (daughters of the land). These insights inform a contribution to the discourse of ethnic or indigenous entrepreneurship, which has each theoretical and coverage implications.
We then developed 4 themes that function the factors from which trans-generational entrepreneurship is nurtured among the many Igbo. These are:
“Nwaboi” (casual volunteering);
the function of first son (di-okpara), which is carefully linked to “afamu-efuna”;
the unbiased and individualist, however but communal, that’s, “acephalous” nature of the Igbos (“Igbo enwe Eze” – Igbos don’t have any king); and
the entrepreneurship collaborative and cultural initiative – the function of kindred (Umunna).
First, the Nwaboi apprenticeship system assumes two kinds, “Imu-Oru Aka” (studying a craft or ability) and “Imu-Ahia” (studying to commerce) throughout every kind of buying and selling to varied crafts and abilities.
Second, Igbo companies survive throughout generations by way of the identification and the nurturing of sons who can take over the enterprise. If the primary son exhibits no curiosity, every other male within the household with potential is skilled to take over the enterprise. Certainly, the notion of “Di-okpara” highlights the importance of a male little one (usually the primary son) to the legacy of the household and any succession plans. It is usually linked to the notion “afamu-efuna”, which ensures the lineage among the many Igbos.
Third, there’s the moderating function of the Umunna (sons of the land), Umuada (daughters of the land) and Ikwu (members of a kindred). These are the arbiters of household or societal disputes. The choices of the Umunna are binding on members of the clan. As well as, the place household enterprise battle arises, the elders of the kindred step in to settle the dispute. By resolving disputes internally, the mechanisms assist keep away from prolonged court docket processes which are sometimes disruptive to the working of companies. This makes the function of Umunna very potent.
Identical to Umunna, there’s additionally the “Umuada” (Umu means individuals) of first daughters (Ada). That is an affiliation of influential indigenous ladies. The group goes past the primary daughters whose ancestry is traced to a village or city. The Umuada represents the pursuits of ladies and serves as a bridge between men and women.
In some instances, the Umuada additionally function checks on the abuse of energy by the council of elders. Umuada can, as results of these powers, intercede in any disputes associated to enterprise practices. Moreover, ladies typically additionally have interaction in these enterprise actions.
Usually talking, arbiters reminiscent of Umunna and Umuada have tended to assist form new norms and beliefs. However, different Igbo constructions assist facilitate the creation of simpler enterprise processes. These embrace higher monetary frameworks. An instance is Afam efuna, an equitable “nwaboi” system overseen to some extent by custodians reminiscent of Ikwu, Umunna and Umuada. These Igbo constructions due to this fact allow the event of latest markets and cultural innovation. In addition they allow Igbos to take care of trans-generational enterprise legacies and inter-generational succession.
The Igbo tradition of entrepreneurship will be traced again to the slave commerce within the fifteenth century. By the 1800s about 320,000 Igbos had been bought to slave merchants each inside and outdoors of their communities at Bonny, 50,000 at Calabar and Elem Kalabari.
This course of continued till the abolition of slave commerce within the 1900s. Not like most African communities, slaves from the Igbo ethnic group had been uncovered to entrepreneurship by their homeowners, together with members of their very own tribe who traded commodities like spices, sugar, tobacco, cotton for export to the Americas, Europe and Asia. Lengthy earlier than Europeans arrived, Igbos enslaved different Igbos as punishment for crimes, for the fee of money owed, and as prisoners of conflict. The follow differed from slavery within the Americas.
Igbos constructed on this, venturing into varied types of entrepreneurship throughout the pre-colonial period. Colonisation discovered the Igbos already main craftsmen, merchants, retailers and cottage industrialists. They’ve maintained this tradition of entrepreneurship by way of the constructions and mechanisms described above.
The findings from Igbo ethnic entrepreneurship research can not essentially be generalised for all different ethnicities. In addition they present reasonable and present examples of how African entrepreneurship is embedded in distinctive cultural phenomena. Nevertheless, every of the weather of the Igbo entrepreneurial spirit and tradition raises completely different points, specifically how societies can maintain entrepreneurship throughout generations.
The teachings from the success of Igbo trans-generational entrepreneurship can actually be tailored to different socio-cultural settings. American journalist and writer Robert Neuwirth hinted at this whereas speaking concerning the Igbo apprenticeship system.
Taking a cue from the title of the ebook by the celebrated Chinua Achebe, one of many best poets of “Igbo” ancestry, students can not let “Issues Fall Aside” on this quest to grasp and act upon the dynamics and potential of ethnic teams and their contribution to the worldwide financial system.
The Igbo entrepreneurship mannequin has demonstrated, repeatedly, easy methods to navigate each ethnic and gender discrimination in mainstream society. This has apparent managerial, analysis and coverage implications.
Professor Nnamdi Madichie is affiliated with the Unizik Enterprise Faculty, Awka, Nigeria, Coal Metropolis College, Enugu, Nigeria and the Bloomsbury Institute London. His is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Advertising and marketing, Fellow of the Chartered Administration Institute, and Senior Fellow of the Greater Training Academy.