The level of unemployment in Nigeria is so much that a Corp Member who is about finishing National Youth Service (NYSC) quivers at the reality of entering the labour market to face the competitive and hard situation. While an undergraduate is in school he or she is sustained by allowance of parents or guardians. The NYSC period is another period of being sustained by the usual “federal allowee.” The “in thing” now is to encourage graduates and youths not to depend on so called white collar jobs and go for entrepreneurship. One complaint of those who wish to go into this is usually that going into a self sustaining business will require much capital to make it grow and yield profit. Many people therefore remain financially handicapped after years of graduation because they believe that they need a large amount of capital to float their own business. Taking a look at the life style of some of our youths you will definitely discover the kind of costly smart phones they brandish and the daily cost of purchasing internet data and then you begin to wonder why these young people cannot start something no matter how small. The Bible teaches us in so many places that what is required to start a business is not always a big capital. It takes a spark of fire to light a fire that can burn an entire football field. Little drops of water they say make a mighty ocean. The Bible also says, “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.” (Zech 4:10).
Starting a business is not easy how much more when it is done with small capital. Most people who start a business abandon their business because they could not keep up with a consistent loss. One of the keys to success as an entrepreneur is persistence and a self confidence belief in yourself that you can make it. The Bible says, “And though you started with little, you will end with much.” (Job 8:7). C. S. Lewis in his book Out of the Silent Planet said, “My people have a law never to speak of sizes or numbers to you. . . . It makes you do reverence to nothings and pass by what is really great.” Sometimes culture says bigger is better—that size is the truest measure of success. It takes a strong person to resist that trend, especially if he or she is laboring in a small place. But we must not “pass by what is really great.” (Our Daily online Bread July 2014).
Recently the Government is coming up with the concept of cluster zones for the marketing and manufacturing of certain commodities and goods. A business cluster is a geographical location where enough resources, producers, skilled and unskilled labour and marketers gather in mass to produce, trade or market their wares. In this system, small scale producers bring their products to a common market to reach an aggregate threshold that stimulates the availability of the products in commercial quantity. Our Westernized education culture seems to make every business concept an invention of the west. But in actuality, business clusters have been in existence in our primitive setting ever before the evasion of the colonialists. For instance, the garri we eat is bought at the local “bush market” where small producers gather to sell their wares. The middle men eventually buy and bring together all the garri produced in small quantity by small scale farmers and then bag them for sale. In the “Silicon Valley case, in the mid- to late 1990s several successful computer technology related companies emerged in Sillicon Valley in California. This led anyone who wished to create a startup company to do so in Silicon Valley. The surge in the number of Silicon Valley startups led to a number of venture capital firms relocating to or expanding their Valley offices. This in turn encouraged more entrepreneurs to locate their startups there. As an increasing number of companies started up in Silicon Valley, programmers, engineers etc. realized that they would find greater job opportunities by moving to Silicon Valley. This concentration of technically skilled people in the valley meant that start-ups around the country knew that their chances of finding job candidates with the proper skill-sets were higher in the valley, hence giving them added incentive to move there. This in turn led to more high-tech workers moving there. Similar effects have also been found in the Cambridge IT Cluster (UK)” Graduates who have a creative mentality can make out something from our open markets. Most of those who do business in our markets did not go to the higher institution. A graduate in the cluster zone or market can recreate the place. For instance my mind has been running wild on how to recreate the tapioca (akpu nmiri or eberebe japu). A lot of people enjoy this with groundnut or coconut. A graduate has the capacity to repackage the way it is being served and packaged and in turn become financially empowered. Remember how what we call “pure water” sachet was packaged in the eighties and early nineties, today the packaging has improved and many jobs have been created as a result of the paradigm shift in water packaging. The water sachets today apart from being a huge industry has also become a big environmental nuisance. This too can be transformed into an opportunity. The quantity of sawdust produced in the timber saw mills is also a potential for job creation waiting to be explored. In some of our university libraries, a lot of research findings that can be translated into commerce abound. What is needed is a man or woman with a daring spirit and not always Government intervention to put things to work.
For those who intend to start a business and have small capital, it is advisable that they should do their business in a cluster zone. There are so many cluster zones (markets) in most Nigerian cities. Doing business however, is not just the responsibility of the entrepreneur, the Government ought to locate sprawling human settlements and see how cluster markets can be developed in such areas. A proactive Government intervention is also a pragmatic way of checkmating arbitrary distortion of the city master plan.
One should not wait for a huge amount of money to come in before he or she can go into a business. It is good to dream big, but the key to actualizing big dreams is to start small. Many supermarkets started as a kiosk. Some lecturers started as nursery school teachers. Some manufacturers also started as distributors. It will be anti progress to wait for all things to be equal before launching out. The corn cob started as an ordinary seed. The corn cob if judiciously managed by a farmer can later be the foundation of tons of grain harvest. Discipline and perseverance is critical to transform the little into much. A young person who wants to make it must be ready to sweat and deny him or herself certain luxuries and even necessities. Nigeria is getting tough by the day in terms of economic and job opportunities, but shall we give up and become poor? Never say die! If the Lord could multiply the five loaves and few fishes to feed thousands, then he too can give strength to our small and medium enterprises to multiply and become big corporations.