History Of Entrepreneurship In Nigeria And Government Influence

History of entrepreneurship

Today we go memory lane to how entrepreneurship started and how it has evolved. There has been clamor for entrepreneurship in recent times and this will help to throw light on the history of entrepreneurship globally, its evolution, history of entrepreneurship in Nigeria, and the role of government in improving the entrepreneurial landscape in Nigeria.

Please fasten your belt and let’s travel the journey together.

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Firstly, What Is Entrepreneurship?

Entrepreneurship is the process of running a business, and navigating through its attendant risks with the aim of making profit. Basically, people who come up with business ideas and implement such in ways that seek to generate profit are generally regarded as entrepreneurs. They take risks and are determined to succeed

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History Of Entrepreneurship In The 17th Century

Entrepreneurship has existed as far back as in the 17th century. The first recorded trading act was in 17,000 BC when people exchanged a volcanic glass (obsidian) for food, skins, tools, and other needed items, etc. Apparently, it continued for a long time where people from different tribes traded (exchanged) properties with other tribes.

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Early History Of Entrepreneurship

Agriculture was the first area of business that people ventured into. People were engaging in food production and other businesses, i.e., farmers started commercial farming, and non-farmers specialized in other businesses. Then they would trade their products amongst themselves. For instance, I give you a hoe, you give me rice, etc, and the trading scope began to expand. Afterwards, they began to specialize in fishing, clothes-making, hunting, tool-making, etc. These were entrepreneurial activities and the people were one of the earliest entrepreneurs in human civilization.

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Subsequently, parents started passing down their skill to their sons and daughters. Eventually, families started specializing in different fields. Then, people started building permanent huts in the settled areas having assurance of food.

Furthermore, they started exploring new areas like pottery-making, carpentry, black-smiting, wool-making, etc. and making profit while solving problems.

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Invention Of Money

As earlier stated, trade by barter existed for a long time but ended when countries started experiencing a ‘coincidence of wants’. People were getting irrelevant things in exchange for their products, and since they were trading across boundaries, returns couldn’t be controlled. Unfortunately, this coincidence of wants limited trade and in the process of finding solutions, money was invented.

The invention of money led to the use of different objects as currency. The earliest form was the shekel in 3000 BC. The shekel is the unit of weight and currency. It was a specific weight of barley and equivalent amounts of silver, bronze, copper and many more. Later on, Central Asia started using silver bars. Ancient China, Africa and India used cowry shells. Some countries used tobacco leaves, some beads, and others sticks and rocks. Subsequently, coinage evolved, then paper money.

With currency, it was easy to trade across borders and trading boomed.

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History Of Entrepreneurship In Nigeria

Entrepreneurship in Nigeria started when the goods produced by her citizens exceeded their needs. They exchanged surplus items for what they needed. For instance, a farmer started selling out his farm produce in exchange for meat from a hunter.

Farmers started selling their farm produce and engaging the services of their family members for greater output. While farmers farmed, non farmers engaged in other activities like craft work. These entrepreneurial activities improved Nigerian economy until the colonial era.

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The Colonial Era

There was something for everyone to do. The boys assisted their fathers in farming, hunting, gold-smiting and other vocation while the girls assisted their mothers with cooking and home cleaning.

Then, Nigeria started direct trade started with the Europeans. The Europeans built coastal bases, introduced slave trading and bought slaves from Nigeria. Subsequently, the slave trade business boomed and some Nigerian traditional rulers participated.

Eventually, the colonial era turned the Nigerian system around. Africans were trained and employed as low rank officers in the local administrations. Nigerians were indirectly receiving training on how to exploit and dominate their country. Then, a biased form of education like inequality was introduced, and colonizers were amassing the wealth of our dear country, Nigeria.

During this period, the colonial masters introduced an educational curriculum that did not have much regard for entrepreneurship. The Colonizers curriculum concentrated majorly on arithmetic, religion, reading, writing, i.e. it was all about book and religion. This greatly affected the entrepreneurial culture that was already striving as Nigerians tended toward white collar jobs as a means of livelihood.

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Revitalisation Of Entrepreneurship In Nigeria After Independence

Eventually, after independence, Nigerians became aware of the menace the colonial educational system has caused on entrepreneurship and economic growth. And this was a turning point in the history of entrepreneurship in Nigeria. Then, they started making efforts to reverse it. The solution was to make education a tool for national development.

See Also: Characteristics of the entrepreneur for business success.

Entrepreneurial organisations

To achieve this, the government established organisations like: National Directorate of Employment (NDE), Nigeria Industrial Development Bank (NIDB), Entrepreneurship Development Centre (EDC), National Open Apprenticeship Scheme (NAOS) and many more.


Similarly, fund raising institutions were also created. These included Peoples Bank of Nigeria, Funds for Small-Scale Industries (FUSSI), co-operative societies, etc. Today there are different organisations that support entrepreneurs through loans, grants etc.

Educational System

To change the education system to encourage entrepreneurship, the 1977 National Policy on Education was formulated. It was formulated for several reasons. One was to address the situation of entrepreneurial learning in the educational system. This policy was formulated in 1977 and revised in 1981, 1988, 2004, 2007 and 2011.

Also, several technical subjects has been incorporated into the Nigerian educational system today. Nigerians now study home economics, craft, ICT, tourism, automobile and other entrepreneurial subjects in secondary schools. All of these are to further motivate young minds towards becoming an entrepreneur.

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