Nigerian Business Structures

You are likely to meet a variety of different business structures in Nigeria — depending on the country of origin of the company you are dealing with.

Subsidiaries of multi-nationals will probably take on many of the characteristics of the parent company but will still have a local flavour.

Indigenous Nigerian companies will, however, have an approach and flavour all of their own. All native Nigerian companies will display massively hierarchical tendencies as befits a country rich in tribal tradition and culture. Thus the boss expects and receives respect from those below them in the structure. As age is highly valued in Nigerian culture, managers are often of the older generation – age brings wisdom.

Although people at a middle-management level will like to give the impression that they have great power in the organisation, they rarely do. Decisions are invariably made right at the top, so try not to waste too much time trying to force decisions out of more junior employees. If possible, go right to the top.

This does not, however, mean that people lower down the corporate structure can be ignored as they may very well be pivotal in influencing the eventual decision-maker. As a relationship-oriented culture, it is important to be seen to be trying hard to develop good relationships at all levels within the organisation.

A brief overview of some key concepts to consider when doing business in Nigeria

Written and Produced by Keith Warburton

Free Download

Overview

Nigeria’s massive oil reserves can be seen as both a blessing and a curse. The sale of crude oil represents about 70% of government revenue and an incredible 90% of the country’s exports. A blessing when oil prices are high but a real problem when prices fall dramatically. Nigeria needs to diversify away from such over-dependence on the oil industry and it needs external help to achieve this diversification.

Therefore, Nigeria definitely needs foreign investment and know-how. It probably needs what your company is selling – which must make it an attractive potential market. In addition to the country-wide need for investment across a whole range of sectors, Nigeria also has demographics on its side. Over half the population (which will be 200 million before too long) are under the age of 24. That represents a huge new potential consumer market who are aspirational and consumerist.

Is Nigeria an attractive market? Should you be looking at doing business in Nigeria?

The fact is that Nigeria is a difficult market from a number of perspectives. Corruption is often cited as the major barrier to doing business in Nigeria and it is undoubtedly true that corruption is rife in many areas of commercial activity. However, the major stumbling block when entering the Nigerian market could in fact be the local business culture. You would be very unwise the approach the Nigerian market without first trying to get a solid understanding of the way in which business is done locally. It isn’t like ‘back home’. Do some research and arrive in-country as well-informed as possible.

This country profile provides an overview of some of the key aspects of Nigerian business culture in a concise, easy to follow-format. The document includes information on:

  • Background to business
  • Business Structures
  • Management style
  • Meetings
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Women in business
  • Entertaining
  • Top tips