Developing the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Nigeria

A Development Centre in Nigeria offers business development assistance, web based resources and customized training programs to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in that country. Recently the Centre implemented a national Business Planning Competition for entrepreneurs which received more than 24, 000 entries. They are also actively collaborating with other similar centres and openly share their business model to encourage  and stimulate similar initiatives. At least 10% of their Alumni base are either Social Entrepreneurs or operate in the Social Sector Space.  

Enterprise Development Centre The mission of the Enterprise Development Center (EDC) of the Pan-African University is “to build a network of entrepreneurial leaders through commitment to continuous learning, process improvement and business integrity.” Throughout the courses on offer, there is a strong focus on sustainable businesses (with one module dedicated to “Building Businesses that last!”). Based in Nigeria, it was founded in 2003 to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria with their business development. We specialize in using experiential learning to build the capacity of learners while providing them with value added services such as mentoring, experts-in-residence, network meetings, access to market and information and implementation of organizational plans.

For sustainability, we deliberately build and strengthen our ecosystem, of which our SMEs are an integral part. Through the careful selection of our partners and collaborators who believe in enterprise development and therefore commit resources to it, our expert volunteers that understands the exponential benefit to the society when they give of their time, the Lagos Business School’s MBA students that constantly come up with innovative solutions, our teaching faculty that refreshes our ecosystem with new insights and the documentation of knowledge through the writing of local case studies, and the willingness of our SMEs to mentor one another, we continually build trust and leverage on one another.

We are now expanding our ecosystem by collaborating with other enterprise centres across Nigeria and sharing our business model. This has led to the implementation of two national projects within one year, one of which was the YouWIN project – a national Business Planning Competition for entrepreneurs’ age 40 years and below, sponsored by the Federal Government of Nigeria. With about 24, 000 entries, it must be one of the biggest Business Planning Competition in recent times.

Our current partners include the British Council, Goldman Sachs Foundation, Diamond Bank, Etisalat, Access Bank, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) of the World Bank and a host of media houses. We place a heavy emphasis on the importance of these contacts because business is driven by collaboration and because without them resources such as the SME Toolkit Nigeria (a web based teaching resource for SMEs) would not be possible.

We also promote projects that have a high societal impact – 10% of our Alumni base are either Social Entrepreneurs or operate in the Social Sector Space. With the support of The Coca Cola Africa Foundation, through the African America Institute, over 100 Transformational Leaders have been trained in this sector and currently being supported by us. We strongly believe in applied knowledge, so after teaching the principles, we hand hold our participants through their various stages of development. Every transaction with every SME in our network from training to advisory service, from in-company visit to consulting – all are well documented and managed through our robust CRM that can be accessed from anywhere in the world. Hence we recognise the uniqueness of every SME in our network and treat them accordingly!

Our training programs are designed to fit around existing businesses – so as they learn, implement and do their businesses at the same time. The Certificate in Entrepreneurial Management (CEM) is taught in 12 modules, and aims to develop the skills of existing and potential SME owners by taking them through the fundamentals of business management (marketing, HR, operations, etc.) with a hands-on approach. The Social Sector Management (SSM) course is part of the Transformational Leadership Program that focuses on developing sustainable businesses in the social sector while the Essential Management Skills (EMS) is designed for team leaders in SMEs and uses IFC’s Business Edge methodology, covering HR, Personal Productivity, Operations, Financial and Marketing management training.

EDC runs as a Business Membership Organization, majority of who are our alumni. In our drive to constantly deepen the interaction within our network, EDC will be launching EDC Apps during 2012 that will open up new frontiers for online networking and collaboration. We believe that by collaborating in this way, we can help SMEs in Nigeria to fulfil their potential in the most sustainable way possible.

The EDC is run by a team of eleven. They all have professional qualifications ranging from Law to Communications, and many of them are or have been practicing professionals.

Filed in: Accompanying leaders in their transformation, Collaboratory, Institutions as role models
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