a young entrepreneur here makes a press conference
Entrepreneurs find new ways of providing values. Olufunlayo Faloye (middle), CEO World ‘N Traveland at a press conference to unveil the company’s unique self-service travel kiosk in Lagos. Source: livnews.wordpress.com

Entrepreneurship is defined in an economics library portal as the process of discovering new ways of combining resources. The entrepreneur’s success may therefore be determined by the market value of these combinations. In one of the early uses of this term, a discrepancy is being made from investor by qualifying the entrepreneur as one who does not only risk but also manage the business. Through his activities, the entrepreneur implements change in an economy by introducing new goods or new methods of production. Peter Kilby corroborates this understanding of the term “entrepreneur” in his 1971 book, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development, by pointing out that most entrepreneurial activities in developing economy is directed towards adapting new technologies to local conditions so as to render them economically viable there.

In the business of Cocoa farming for example, Nigerians were not the pioneers but their success in developing this locally novel crop into a major commercial venture without external directions is a remarkable example of entrepreneurial achievement. According to Schumpeter capital and output growth in an economy depends significantly on the entrepreneur. The difference in economic growth rates of countries of the world is largely due to the quality of entrepreneurs in those countries.

Three phases was identified for entrepreneurship in Ogundeji Jolaosinmi’s 2001 doctoral theses on entrepreneurial performance. These are emergence, behaviour, and performance process. Social relations, political factor, previous work experience, formal education, and technology are factors which have significant effect on entrepreneurial emergence.

Behaviour of the entrepreneur may be associated with social relations, political factor, adoption in relation to technology, previous work experience, innovation, structure of the organization, method of communication, and interpersonal relations. There has been a partial support in an analysis, for effect of training, and development, and delegation of authority on behaviour. There has been no support for the prediction on the use of subordinate’s initiative in decision making. Entrepreneurial performance is significantly influenced by social relations, political factor, training, and development. Also influential is previous work experience, innovativeness, and some structural elements. Size, however, is not related to performance. Also, there is no support for the predicted effect of technology on performance. Overall, it can be said that several factors, both environmental, and personal, affect the emergence, behaviour, and performance of entrepreneurs.

Olusanya and Richard respectively of Niger Delta and Adekunle Ajasin Universities said in a 2011 paper that foreign companies in colonial period formed the Association of West African Merchants (AWAM) in order to prevent indigenous businessmen from participating in the thriving export and import trade in colonial West Africa. This trade was dominated by UAC, UTC, CFAO, John Holt, and PZ. With the coming of self-rule, the role of government in entrepreneurship development in Nigeria was insignificant, till after the Civil War. Dire economic circumstances of the middle 1980s made this necessary, and agencies such as the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Association of Nigeria (SMEADAN), was formed. President Babangida’s Structural Adjustment Programme of 1986 was, in the words of Obadan and Ekuehare in a 1989 paper, intended to dissuade primitive accumulators and to encourage capitalist accumulators in the economy.

The National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS) created by President Obasanjo’s government attempted to grow the private sector. The series of government-sponsored Entrepreneurship Development Program that followed the realisation of the impact of entrepreneurship to the economic life of the country focused on the provision of capital on the assumption that the limiting factor inhibiting the assumption of entrepreneurship role by Nigerians is lack of capital. This may have formed the idea behind one of the largest of such efforts, the President Jonathan‘s Youth Enterprise With Innovation in Nigeria (YOUWIN) programe.

Tope Apoola
Profession: Writer