At the end of 2015 we took a visit to Nigeria to assess the potential of the healthcare market. Now I’m sure you’re thinking, just as the majority of professionals we spoke to did, we must be mad to embark on such a risky venture. However, I have always believed in following your instinct and where others see danger I see opportunity. Plus, we had the advantage of having a Nigerian national within our team.
What we found
‘Upon arriving in Abuja the financial capital of Nigeria, it was clear this wasn’t going to be a run of the mill business visit. During out trip we went to the International Trade exhibition to see what the distribution network was like. The exhibition was based in a large field outside Abuja, with homebuilt wooden stands advertising everything from diggers to noodles. However, despite the surroundings, the place was alive with some of the most enthusiastic entrepreneurial spirt I have seen and business was high on everyone’s agenda.
Despite these obvious dangers and complications, we were able to gather extremely valuable research and I’m pleased to say that we will be looking to proceed into the Nigerian market as a result.’
‘In a very short period of time you have to adjust to the way things are done and learn how important it is to Having a Nigerian national who we employed and trusted was a major advantage. He was able to introduce us to a good network of professional people who in turn provided us with in-depth knowledge in areas such as law, banking, distribution and logistics. Try to get someone on board who is from the country who you can truly trust to help YOUR company – you don’t find this through agents.
Getting rid of your (and ignoring others’) preconceptions is essential as they are often not what you find – I didn’t find that all of Nigeria wanted to try and get my bank details. Instead one taxi man who found my phone in his car actually returned it. I’m not sure that would happen in this country.
Finally, it is crucial to remember that foreign expansion is not the quickest of processes but with careful planning and huge efforts it can be achieved!’
BEN BLACKBURN, Blackburn Distributions
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