With over 10,000 vendors and annual revenue of $4.7 billion, Alaba International Market, practicing the Igbo apprenticeship method is the largest business incubator platform in the world.
What is this method you asked?
This method is governed by a sharing principle where an apprentice, usually an Igbo fellow of which majority are brought from the ‘village’ so to say, or from the eastern part of Nigeria. They serve their master for a period of anything between 4 – 7 years, after which they are established.
On establishing them, their master tends to rent a shop for them, paying for a year rent or more and then stock up the shop with goods, and probably also handing them some cash.
Now, while serving the master for that period of years, the apprentice is getting to learn the ins and outs of the business including how to source for these goods and also how to sell effectively. It is important to note that most of these apprentices have little or no formal education background, so the period of services happen to be like their own university education; I mean, an average graduate in Nigeria spends almost the same number of years in the university, without any hope of job placement. But here, after serving your master, you are sure of settlement.
And this don’t just happen with the electrical and electronics market alone; Infact I remember back in the years when I used to visit my mum’s shop, just beside her is an Igbo man selling Garri, beans, rice and he also run this same business model.
Risk involved with this Business Model
A situation occurred some years back with this same Igbo man beside my mum’s shop where one of his apprentices channeled some huge cash from his business to fund something else. It took almost a year to detect what was going on before he was caught and dismissed.
Most times some of these boys from the village, having exposed to money, begin to misbehave and a few of same occurrences have made some of their masters go bankrupt.
On the flip side, there are masters who have also had their apprentices spent more than the expected number of years without doing the needful, reason(s) best known to them.
But the fact still remains that, this locally generated venture capital model is the Largest Business Incubator Platform in the world, coupled with the fact that it has made Alaba International market the biggest electronics market in west Africa.
Would you rather imbibe this model in your present business?
What do you think?
Drop your thoughts below.