Are you torn between the choice of starting a business vs traveling abroad to seek greener pasture? If YES, here’s a deep comparison to help you decide the best between traveling abroad and starting a business.
Almost every Nigerian, especially Nigerian male who has not yet left the shores of the country, has nursed the idea of leaving the country at one time or the other.
In fact, it is almost a bragging right for one to have visited one or more countries overseas, and anyone who settles there eventually is seen to belong to a higher societal niche that is far above any status that can be attained by a home based Nigerian who is yet to have an overseas travelling experience.
Why Travel Overseas? What are the Presumed Advantages?
Having the prestigious green card is a further icing on the cake as it bestows a sort of demigod status on the recipient. But the reason why certain Nigerians bestow a status symbol on anyone who has traveled abroad is not far-fetched.
A country like the United States is an established society with working systems and functional governments which ensures that things move according to laid down rules and regulations, thus making life easy and enjoyable while being humane with its citizens and even non-citizens.
It is only a person who has no value for beauty and orderliness that would not want to be part of the serenity that a developed country offers. This is not even counting facilities like electricity, standard roads, rule of law and many other amenities that make life easy.
Again, superiority in their educational system which is not only of a better quality but of a higher standard ensures that the person bearing the certificate would be recognized as having gone through a deluxe educational process and such certificate is mostly given preference by companies in Nigeria.
Another very important reason why people prefer to travel overseas is the currencies which have a better exchange rate when compared to the naira. Take for example, one pound currently exchanges for N465. People generally feel that it makes better financial sense to make the money overseas and spend it in Nigeria where a little money would go a very long way. This is one of the main reasons why most people abandon lucrative jobs in Nigeria at the slightest chance of travelling overseas.
Other reasons why people travel overseas include:
a. Better legal system: There is no denying the fact that the Nigerian legal system leaves much to be desired. Criminals are being let off the hook on a daily basis if they are well to do and know their way around the law. Cases abound where rich and corrupt politicians have received ridiculously light sentences (that is if they get prosecuted in the first place), while a commoner gets to feel the full weight of the law (that is if they get sentenced and not abandoned in jail on awaiting trial basis).
A very popular instance is that of Yusuf John Yakubu, the former Assistant Director of the Police Pension Board who was accused of embezzling 32.8 billion naira, but was sentenced to 6 years imprisonment for the three count charges or given an option of 250,000 naira fine for each count, through a plea bargain.
b. Better opportunities: There are better opportunities to live a comfortable life overseas only if you are willing to take advantage of them. You get help to go to school through school loans, you can get a job no matter your level of education (or lack of it), the elderly gets social security, health care is free to a large extent, and you get to be paid disability if can’t work due to injury or sickness. The list is inexhaustible. These opportunities are things sorely lacking in the Nigerian system, and which also acts as bait that lures people overseas.
c. Better infrastructure: Driving in most places in Nigeria is almost akin to going to the gym as you get to exercise every part of your body due to the bumpy rides experienced in the greater majority of Nigerian roads. In developed countries, terribly bad roads are a thing unheard of, maybe a pothole or two, but nothing worse than that. On top of that, you get better standard of living, infrastructure, public facilities, hospitals, and every rules and codes are enforced down to the latter.
d. Better disaster management: it is a known fact that both natural and man-made disasters are better managed overseas with the help of efficiently running systems. If the smallest tsunami is to hit any Nigerian state, it may turn into a disaster of terrible magnitude because there are not standard disaster management provisions in place.
e. Better standard of living: it is an undeniable fact that standard of living is much better in a developed country than an underdeveloped country. With easy access to good food, clean water, better road networks, a human centered government, standard security, better and comfortable public facilities, affordable and regulated housing, and not to talk of other systems that are in top working conditions. No wonder the average age expectancy in the United States is 74 years while that of Nigeria is 53 years.
f. Security: one of the drawbacks of living in Nigeria, and generally most developing countries is the apathetic attitude of their security personnel, which is probably due to their bare arsenal and lack of adequate training and motivation, coupled with the ingrained corruption in the system.
Living overseas, one is ensured of adequate protection at all times and rapid response in case of crime, and one is free from thoughts and fears of armed robbers, kidnappers, ritualists, and even unnecessary jungle justice that is the order of the day in developing countries because people have decided to take laws into their incompetent and irrational hands.
All these and a lot others are the reasons why travelling and living overseas is quite appealing to most Nigerians. But despite the seemingly hopeless situation, living in Nigeria has its own advantages too especially when one intends to start a business there.
Why Start a Business? What are the Presumed Advantages?
According to the World Bank report of ease of doing business in Nigeria, Nigeria ranked 170 showing that the ground is very fertile. In fact, based on ongoing business statistics, an entrepreneur can be tempted to jump into the water with both feet, arms flailing, and still be successful. There are countless international conglomerates that invested in Nigeria and are expanding aggressively.
That said, these are some of the factors that count favorably for an entrepreneur intending to start a business in Nigeria.
i. Viable Workforce: More than 62 percent of Nigeria’s population is under 25 making it a nation with a robust workforce. Being that more than half of the population are youths, it then makes it easy to find workforce and cheaper labour to carry out your business venture, no matter what area you intend starting or investing into. It is an established fact that the employment situation in the country is worrisome, so you are sure of having an already waiting workforce.
ii. High Population: With over 174 million people and counting, Nigeria is the 9th most populous African country in the world. With this kind of population, there is guaranteed to be a market for any business, product or service that an entrepreneur can start, especially if such product or service is required frequently.
iii. Inadequate infrastructure: With a country as big as Nigeria and hardly anything to go round like housing, electricity, food, security etc. if an entrepreneur can start any business along any of these lines that government cannot seem to handle alone, then success is assured.
Take for example the issue of communication, international conglomerates like mtn, airtel etc. came in and took over the sector when government couldn’t handle it alone, and these companies are making it big, while alleviating the communication woes of Nigerians.
iv. Growing Economy: The Nigerian economy has enjoyed sustained growth for decades despite global recession, and even the recession within. In fact, Nigeria is one of the largest market economies in Africa with annual GDP increasing by 7 percent where the non-oil sector contributes about 57 percent to the economy, manufacturing 9 percent and agriculture 21 percent. Despite this, the economy is still diversifying with potentials for investment existing in almost every sector. This goes to point out that investing in Nigeria is a potential profit mine.
v. Ease of Doing Business:
Nigeria is ranked 169 out of 190 economies when it comes to the ease of doing business according to World Bank annual ratings in 2017. This goes to show that the environment is conducive for business operations in Nigeria with stronger property protection rights. The Nigerian government is also helping in this area by slashing the period of import and export documentation papers, from 2 weeks to between 6 and 10 days for export documentations, and a maximum of 8 days for import documentations.
This and more are measures being put in place to further encourage doing business in Nigeria. Again, the inhibitions faced when starting a small business in Nigeria are few as a small business owner can simply set up a small shop retailing goods or providing services without harassment from the law, this is even without procuring any legal papers and paying any tax. It is that easy.
Traveling Overseas vs Starting a Business – Which is the Best?
Despite the fact that travelling overseas would give you a comfortable and secured life but it comes with a lot of drawbacks.
First, for a Nigerian graduate who is seeking to go abroad for greener pastures, the standard of education and the quality of the Nigerian certificate may not be enough in most instances to get a good job overseas, and most employers would not accept a Nigerian certificate, even if the applicant has a first class. The person may be required to get additional certifications in the host country or even go back to school to get another degree, or to settle for menial jobs that do not require certification.
Secondly, with the influx of Arab refugees to developed countries, anybody travelling at this point runs the risk of being classed as a refugee and treated as such. So, it would be ridiculous for a person to leave his country where he is a free man to answer a refugee in a foriegn land. Also, because of this tag, the immigrant may not even be eligible to enjoy the so called comfort and ease of life the country provides.
Third, a Nigerian who travels overseas runs the risk of deportation if his or her papers are not complete. It should also be noted that a lot of money is required when a person intends to travel, what with the exchange rate and all. Things like getting a passport, visa, air tickets, capital to carry along etc. cost a lot of money, and some people go to the extent of putting their real estate in the market just to raise funds for that venture.
If such funds are invested in a small viable business in Nigeria, it has the potentials of becoming a success and yielding tremendous profits for the owner. Additionally, a Nigerian who travels abroad needs a work permit, without which he cannot get good employment, and as such has to stick with menial jobs which he or she would not have touched in Nigeria with a mile long pole.
Fourth, some Nigerians who travel overseas have gotten stranded due to one immigration reason or the other and have faced shameful deportations. Many illegal migrants have been known to lose their lives due to hardship while on the trip and in extreme situations have had to sell their organs in order to survive.
Fifth, a foreigner starting a business say in the United States is very difficult, not only because of the many permits and documents that have to be procured, but because of the immigration hurdles that you have to scale before you can start talking about being eligible for any sort of loans or financial grants.
All these and more are the reasons why it may not be a good idea to travel overseas if you are to choose between travelling abroad and doing business in Nigeria.
Some other reasons to start a business in Nigeria include;
- The Nigerian economic climate favours small businesses: despite the poor electricity situation in Nigeria, small businesses have better chances of survival due to high patronage and leverage given to them by government to operate. Once you have a great idea and can provide the required startup capital, then you are good to go.
- You would be operating in a familiar terrain: operating on a familiar terrain comes with its own advantages as you can easily fit in and operate because you are familiar with how the systems work. You are also familiar with the likes, dislikes and mannerisms of the people around your business location. This knowledge counts a lot when one intends to open a business.
- It is easier to access loans in Nigeria than overseas: Because of the plentiful banks in Nigeria hustling for customers, they are no longer strict with their loan requirements, as such, it has become quite easy to access loans in Nigeria. Again, with the extended family system being run in Nigeria, it is easier to get a loan from a relative because he or she is bound by family ties to provide you the money if he or she has it, whether or not the recipient is creditworthy.
- You have access to a larger consumer base: The exploding population in Nigeria automatically increases your consumer base making sure you have a ready market for your products.
- Funds go a long way in Nigeria because you are not weighed down with bills: Once tax is paid, there are a few bills that hold an entrepreneur down; as such the little funds available get to go a long way.