By Mazino Dickson

As Nigeria seeks to diversify it’s economy from a mono-cultural format dominated by oil, there has been a school of thought that continues to insist that creating the enabling environment is vital for other sectors to work.

It is not uncommon to observe that since Nigeria’s economic fortunes took a nose-dive from 2015, strengthening the private sector has become a fait accompli.

Experts insist that one key drivers that could help in Nigeria’s economic diversification, are startups.

They say start-ups are critical to the economic development of the country, hence the need to create the right environment for start-ups to thrive was essential for job creation and prosperity in the nation.

But many Nigerian businessmen argue that the nation’s commercial environment lacksbasic amenities and infrastructure that could aid and help start-up business development and survival.

Consequently, getting government support for building startups is vital.

Ekundayo Ayeni, Chief Innovation Officer, BusinessPlus, says this move could help businesses thrive and boost the economy of the country.

“Start-ups cannot work alone. They need basic infrastructure such as power, low cost office spaces, internet, good transport systems and funding, among others to boost their business,’’ Ayeni said .

He noted that the judicial, educational, financial systems and general government policies should be such that encourage and promote start-up businesses.

“Presently a lot of start-up businesses are heavily taxed by the government without considering whether they are making profit or not.

“For upcoming businesses, there should be government support and that also includes what the banks are able to do for start-up businesses.

“The registering of a new business in Nigeria is another issue that discourages most start-ups. Most of them have to wait a month or two to register their new business with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).

“The same long process is experienced by start-ups when they want to apply for loan to fund their businesses.

“It will go a long way if the government could make these processes faster without having to wait for months to register one’s business or take loans ,’’ he said.

Challenges

As straightforward as this may seem, getting the startup scene up and running has some challenges.

They include poor knowledge of the business they are about to run, no real market research to make decisions on best buyers, poor financial management, and wrong recruitment.

Many Nigerian startups have kicked off with promise and funfair, but suddenly packed up.

“Starting and sustaining a business is a challenge that start-ups face and so the need to build capacity in such a way that all concerns of the business are well managed,” says  Jide Awe, an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) expert and  Conferences Committee Chairman, Nigeria Computer Society (NCS).

“As start-ups, they may not be able to sustain their expectations due to technical and operational abilities which have to do with managing workers and promoting the business.

“With the right skills, infrastructure and capacity building, a start-up is ready to push his business forward against all odds,” he said.

Awe said that the environment should be more appreciative and friendly to a start-up as start-ups could actually help in building the economy.

Way forward

Since startups play a significant role in economic growth through creation of jobs, it means government must aid start-ups by giving grants and loans and introducing policies that would ensure their growth in the country.

Crittical utilities like power, broadband, single-tax window and other incentives will aid the growth of start-ups.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed for what 2019 has in store.

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