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“Dangote still de find money”: Misunderstanding entrepreneurship

Aliko Dangote

 There is now so much interest in entrepreneurship that we need to continually educate our people and enhance their chances of succeeding in their efforts to create and innovate their way out of poverty and lack. Entrepreneurship is trending for so many reasons. For starters, the economy has not recorded any meaningful expansion over the past several years. At best, its growth has been unstable. There even appears to be a possibility that the growth projections for the current year may be unattainable. Already, there are expectations of much slower growth in the global economy than projected, as the trade war between America and China take root.

The leading global financial institutions, particularly the IMF, have voiced out their southward expectation of global growth numbers. Specifically, Nigeria’s 2019 economic growth projections have even been downgraded by these institutions, for many reasons, signposted by the poor outturn of events in the oil sector. This declining growth trend has negatively impacted several segments of the economy leading to company failures, factory closures, more job losses and rising crime waves. The combined effect of these a stagnant economy that stagnates the hopes of the citizens and regressed their economic well-being.

In the final analysis, there are not enough jobs to go round those who need them, many of whom are not equipped with market-oriented competencies. So, more people are trying their hands on things that can keep them out of the job market, even if the things they do are not of any enduring interest to them – they are not passionate about what they do, being motivated purely by the need to sustain themselves. On the positive side, the changing times have created opportunities in the digital space for new business ideas and services to be floated. Many young people are therefore taking their chances in these areas. In other words, entrepreneurship is in vogue and should be overtly promoted. One way of doing that is to continually educate our youth on the real meaning and forces behind successful entrepreneurship to increase their chances of success.

We had said in an earlier piece that entrepreneurs put ideas ahead of capital. By this we mean that a good business idea will attract the capital needed to realize it. Therefore, a sound business proposition is more important than the search for capital. This leads us to our next canon: the desire to make money and become famous. It is to be noted that desire to become financially rich does not necessarily led to successful entrepreneurship. It may lead to a business being formed and some money being made. However, such business and the money so made may fizzle out once this objective of making money is achieved. It is rather the intense or passionate desire to create a product of provide a service that leads to enduring enterprise. This what we call passion. While our passion may not necessarily be or lead to a great money making business, the staying power that is behind all successful entrepreneurs come from passion. You have to love what you do to continue to do it, especially when the unexpected happen or even when success comes. There is always a need to recharge our energies and restore our strength, as things happen in the course of business. Passion is the tonic that keeps us going in difficult times.

Now let’s come to the subject matter of this piece – “Dangote still de find money” – a line from the music of a . Some of our youth have been using what I consider a misunderstanding of the spirit behind the Dangote success to promote the wrong idea of entrepreneurship. Many of the youth are now under the wrong impression that Dangote’s continued expansion and venturing into different economic activities is driven by his pursuit of money and more money. This, in my view, is absolutely wrong. This wrong notion has unfortunately gained prominence among young people, with the release of a musical video that says something to the effect that Dangote is building more businesses because he is looking for more money. That being the case, as the musician thinks, then who is anyone of us to stop pursuing money, since we don’t even have anything compared to Dangote. To that extent, the musicians encourages youths to look for money, which is positive. Granted, there is nothing wrong in urging young people to go out there to make money, it is wrong to give the impression that what drives Dangote’s expansion is the love of money. This may shift our focus from the real drivers of the company’s growth – passion to create and innovate, which is more enduring that simple hunger for cash.For a Dangote, the marginal utility of money must be very low. Something else must be driving his expansion. The youth must find it if they want to use, as they ought to, him as their beacon of success.

What drives Dangote into new ventures must be something higher than additional cash that brings little or no utility. It must be his passion to create and innovate – the effervescent urge to bring to life a new product or service idea. Surely, money will follow such an idea, if it succeeds, but it is not the driving force. Dangote has made the Forbs list of the world’s wealthiest men. He is number 136 in the world and number one in Africa. His desire for more money or marginal utility for money has declined significantly that only his passion to explore new areas can sustain his interest in building new businesses. It is therefore important that young people understand that if money is the key driver of our enterprise, we may lose steam and focus when money comes.

The raw hunt for money puts it on the lookout for “money hunters”. No animal stands while hunters approach. They flee as the Biblical Joseph, pursued by Portifer’s wife. This is why, those who look for money for its own sake hardly find it while those who seek to change lives through service and product more money than they could ever need. Find something your passion; think deeply around it; take the risk and work hard on your dream. Money is just a sure but an added frill.


Emeka Osuji


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