Being a social entrepreneur in Nigeria: Do or Don’t?

best country in Subsaharan Africa to be a social entrepreneur
3 minutes approx.


In 2017, Nigeria has been ranked as the second richest country of the continent, with an economy flourishing under aircraft parts exports, vessels, cocoa, tobacco, processed food or spirits and vinegar exports. Entrepreneurship has been all the rage for the past few years, and social entrepreneurship is widely considered as a solution where public authorities failed to satisfy the needs of citizens. But what is it like to be a social entrepreneur in one of the biggest ecnomies of the continent?

The Thomson Reuters Foundation teamed up with Deutsche Bank, UnLtd and the Global Social Entrepreneurship Network to conduct the world’s first experts’ poll on the best countries for social entrepreneurs. The poll surveyed almost 900 social enterprise experts in 44 of the world’s biggest economies as ranked by the World Bank to find out which countries are creating the best environment for social entrepreneurs. It included social entrepreneurs, academics, investors, policy-makers and support network staff.

The overall rank of Nigeria to the poll is 33. Countries score from 1 to 44 (lowest rank is the most positive).

Generally, entrepreneurs face great difficulties to live from their activity, especially social entrepreneurs. To the question Can social entrepreneurs make a living from their work in my country?  Nigeria ranked 14. The country ranked 21 to a question about one of the biggest obstacles for entrepreneurs in Subsaharan Africa: Is it easy for social entrepreneurs to sell to Government? According to the poll, selling to government is one of the main challenges faced by the growing sector. Governments are not usually open to collaborations with entrepreneurs but in Nigeria, the situation seems to be encouraging.

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Nigeria ranked 26 to the questions Are conditions favourable for social entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses? and 30 for Does Government policy support social entrepreneurs? 60 percent of social enterprise experts in the 44 countries surveyed said there was a lack of public awareness about social entrepreneurs. Indeed, when it comes to the general public, social entrepreneurs often complain that many people do not understand their mission, what makes it difficult for them to get support. Nigeria ranked 24 over 44 for awareness of the general public.

The country ranks 34 when it comes to attracting staff with the required skills, but that situation is a general one regarding the needs of the labour maket. The lack of adequacy between knowledge and skills acquired in school and the labour market needs is alarming in virtually every domain across the continent.

Either financial or not, support is also a great issue for entrepreneurs in general, and social entrepreneurs in particular. Nigeria is no exception. The country ranked 33 to the question Is it easy for social entrepreneurs to access investment (debt and/or equity)? and 40 to the question Can social entrepreneurs access the non-financial support they need (e.g. financial, legal and technical advice; access to markets and networks; coaching, mentoring and training)? Nevertheless, Nigeria ranked 31 to the question Is social entrepreneurship gaining momentum in the country?

One of the worst ranking of Nigeria is for Female social entrepreneurship. It seems not to be that easy for women in that growing environment since the country ranked 40 over 44. Overall, being a social entrepreneur in Nigeria has its positive and negative aspects but, according to statistics, the situation is not that alarming for a developing sector: social entrepreneurs can make a living from their work, they can sell to the public and to Government, conditions are favorable to start and grow a business and the sector is gaining momentum.

  • Elle Citoyenne
    Elle Citoyenne

    Citizen Media

    Elle Citoyenne is a bilingual (Fre-Eng) citizen media aiming at educating people on all things pertaining to citizen participation, giving the floor to citizens for them to voice out thoughts and propose solutions to problems experienced by their communities, and promoting citizens' actions for the welfare of their communities.

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