Journey into Lagos

Fellow Fellows & Mr. Blakeley:

Hope you have all safely arrived at your destinations and have begun to change the world; I know I haven’t although it appears that I am expected to do so.

I am interning with the Tony Elemulu Foundation in Lagos that strives for the transformation of the African economy by helping small and medium enterprises (SME) scale up. I am working with one such SME called the Financial Trust Company, which aims to bring financial service to the masses and I am expected to contribute to the business plan achieving this objective.

Journey into Lagos was hectic and exciting. After almost missing my connection in Dubai, the arrival into Lagos Airport was as expected – nightmarish. The airport was a chaos with massive immigration lines and tempers running high, fortunately foreigners had a separate line and my bags arrived on time. I also got a true taste of Lagos traffic as it took me over 2 hours to get to my accommodation.

The thing about life in Nigeria is that it’s devoid of most basic comforts; hardly any electricity, terrible roads, high crime rate, exorbitant cost of living and incessant flooding. However, the trade is booming and Nigerians are very entrepreneurial, which leads to me to wonder how progressive the country could be given the proper infrastructure and environment. The business environment is very prohibitive – corruption, bureaucracy, lack of infrastructure and lack of capital but the spirit of business is very much alive and the Nigerians resilient. I am learning to adapt to a daily 2 hour commute, hours of no electricity or internet, climbing 6 floors 5 times/day and the flooded streets.

However, as I enter my 2nd week here, this country has managed to impress me. There are a lot of challenges I face – personal and professional – but I am positive that I can help this company build a firm turnaround plan and am equally positive about their success. Though I haven’t been able to take any pictures, I promise there will be lots to follow.