The program wants to prepare young women to run a small business. Small business is above anything about skills, instincts and determination. Technical skills to produce a commodity or service. Social and organisational skills to collaborate and plan in a business environment. Entrepreneurial instincts to see new opportunities when they come along. And last but not least, a determination to make it succeed. Also a determination to overcome cultural barriers and anxieties.

The training wants to enable young women to earn a steady income and build a future. This includes nurturing a long term perspective related to issues such as continuous personal growth, parenthood, family life and health. Also, being a female entrepreneur in West Africa is not only about self-sufficiency. It is also about social safety in an environment dominated by men.

some intercultural reflections

When developing a training program for people in non-western cultures, one must first recognize that our own notion of business, which we often take for granted too easily, is also culturally conditioned. The next step starts with identifying ways of doing business that work in the Nigerian sociocultural and commercial context. Building on its assets often presents new and unique opportunities.

Perceptions of business

Small business in Nigeria can take many different forms. Most of them share that they are essentially strategies to survive in an insecure environment. They are often also more informal when compared with western business culture. It relies considerably more on social interaction, implicit understanding and mutual leniency. But as western culture is increasingly finding its way in Nigerian society, notions of business are shifting as well. At the same time this presents new windows of opportunity that can be addressed accordingly.

Motherhood & work

Many young women in Nigeria are single mothers. It can be quite challenging to combine motherhood with educational activities and work. However, different from western culture work situations in Nigeria are often very hybrid, allowing for spontaneous and informal events to blend in. Consequently, daily life is more fluid and considerably more dependent on mutual support and collaboration – formally and informally. This difference in the sociocultural context must be appreciated since it also presents valuable assets that can be built on.

Evolutionary context

There is no such thing as a golden standard for how doing business. Where business in western culture depends more on softs skills, business in Nigeria can be considerably more no-nonsense, direct and aimed at closing the deal. As western ways of life are increasingly finding their way into Nigerian culture, perceptions and expectations are changing also. The evolutionary context must be taken into account because it not only creates new and different opportunities but also asks for different skills to capitalize them.

The program in Nigeria is offered on a non-profit basis.

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