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The Problem With Family Business Succession

BIMBO AJAO

I watched a show on T.V, Spice Origin. It featured the art of wool making in some part of Edo state, which was really fascinating. What baffled me was the fact that majority of the women involved in the craft were old women, in fact, just one of them could be considered as young. One can only imagine what will happen to this craft once these old women pass away, as there will be nobody to succeed the craft. What was more frightening was when the women talked about how marketable their craft was. According to them, people preferred imported wools and not the locally made one for some unknown reason, despite the fact that the locally made wools were just as good as the imported ones.

Nigeria is a country with great history of art and agriculture. It wouldn’t have been called history if these occupations were still common. It is no news that our art and craft works which included potteries, stone carvings, bronze work, wood carving etc were exceptionally beautiful. Also was our crop farming; cocoa, cassava kernel, groundnut oil, palm oil, millet and so on. The discovery of oil soon turned things around and our government began to focus solely on oil. Now when oil isn’t as profitable as it was, perhaps its time to promote industrialization. Isn’t it time to go back and learn the early crafts so we can invest in them and brand them? Isn’t it time to develop industrialization and stop importing toothpick and wool? Isn’t it time we stop importing everything we use?

Firstly, why do family businesses like farming and craft not succeed in Nigeria? Well there are a few reasons,

  1. Craft works are not taught in schools.
  2. Locally made crafts face tough competition with foreign brands.
  3. Locally made crafts are not well marketed.
  4. Some parents don’t properly teach their children or encourage them to partake in family businesses.
  5. Majority of the youths prefer white collar jobs.

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From the above, we can see that both the government and the masses have their roles to play in order to promote industrialization in Nigeria. The first step to do is introducing art and crafts to schools. Agriculture has already been introduced to schools and so should arts and crafts. If there’s going to be any possible way of preserving craft works, it has to be by ensuring that knowledge of the art does not die. Introducing crafts to schools will not only help preserve the work, but also encourage the young ones to have interests in it.

Secondly is branding. There’s nothing as good as branding, the Minimie chin chin is a perfect example. Who would have taught that an ordinary chin chin needed nice packaging and advertisement. The owner of that brand saw the importance of branding, then used it as a tool to beat the competition. Now Minimie chin chin is the best sold chin chin. This is a classical example of the importance of branding. The old people engaging in some crafts probably do not know about branding, but once crafts are introduced to schools, youths can learn not only about the craft, but also about marketability.

While the art and trade is being taught in schools, a friendly market will also be needed. This is in the sense that, the government would either have to restrict importation of those products or put high taxes on importation, so that it will be inconvenient for people to buy imported stuff, making them to go for the local ones. Another important factor closely relating to this that should be considered, is Price Control. People often complain the locally made products are more expensive than the imported ones, which is really absurd. The government should therefore put price control on the products and also, the raw materials used to make them. This way, the producers will have lesser reasons to inflate prices unnecessarily.

Also is the problem of engaging the young ones in family businesses. Parents should help their children develop interest in family businesses, not by forcing them, but by engaging them in the processes and allowing them do things on their own. Too much control can make people lose interest in doing things. I personally don’t like being told what to do every minute because that only makes it look like I’m not competent enough, therefore I should be controlled. This is a mistake a lot of parents make.

Lastly, youths should be encouraged to go into farming and handwork, and not looked down upon for doing it. If you tell some people you studied Veterinary medicine or Agricultural science, the first question will be ‘why did you study that kind of course?’, which really is an ignorant question. Who do you think takes care of the animals you feed on? People need to become open minded and realize there is more to life than wearing a tie and socks. If everybody wears tie and socks, then we’ll have to be eating paper, and soon, the paper will finish, who will make the new ones?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

BIMBO AJAO is a graduate of Accounting from Bowen University, Nigeria. A writer and lifestyle blogger, Bimbo is a contributor to YoungNigerian.com and owns BimboAjao.com

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