How Small Businesses in Nigeria’s University Cities are Faring? Insights from Students and Business Owners

Omotolani Oyeniyi

In a quest to promoting the development of entrepreneurship and small businesses in Nigeria, government in 2006 approved the total commitment of higher institutions in providing entrepreneurship education to Nigerian students by making entrepreneurship a compulsory course for all students irrespective of their disciplines. The introduction of this course has exposed lots of students to getting involved in some diverse areas of small businesses.

Many universities have since then set up spaces to be called Entrepreneur Centers where students can acquire knowledge on varieties of skills spanning through shoemaking, cake making, tie and dye, fish farming, snail rearing, bee keeping, barbing, soap making among many others. One of the salient objectives for this is to bring about reduction to the unemployment rate especially among the new university graduates in the country.

The predominant belief of people of a particular community or location is that the setting up of an institution in their locality amounts to the society becoming populated and serves as one of the factors that call for industrialization, recruitment of indigenes as members of staff and of course an improvement on the sales of their market variables or structures. They tend to believe that there will be huge sales of their commodities.

Locations of universities where they are sited speak of their engagement in which students in the community or neighboring ones can get engaged with in order to make ends meet. The fact that locations either urban or rural settlements aides the setting up of small businesses in areas where universities are situated in. In the case of rural settlement, the siting of a university can cause an urban-rural migration which gives enough reason for people or prospective entrepreneurs to start up a business therein. Azeezat Akande, a Lagos-born lady who studies at the Federal University, Oye Ekiti, and also a clothing and textile retailer, narrated a brief story of how she started her business in the community where she studies. “For two semesters, I had to travel to Lagos to bring down quality clothes that I can wear. Boutiques are very scarce in the community not to talk of unisex boutiques” Azeezat said.

Olaide Oke, a 400l students of the University of Ibadan, noted that small businesses are purposeful to students. “They are businesses that help students to meet their needs noting the fact that they serve as source of income to them.” Furthermore, he stresses that “such businesses enable the community dwellers; natives and non-natives to have access to goods and services that used to be far from their disposal.”

“The growth of small businesses in university environment can be rapid in some areas and may be stunted in some others.” Ayatullah Hazzan, a Dental Intern tells Abitocitta.

Abdulwasii Afolabi, 28, a building materials vendor and a final year student at Ekiti State University, complained on the slow growth rate of businesses in most universities’ locations. He totally placed the blames of the underdevelopment of small businesses on both government and the concerned stakeholders. In his opinion, the officials are responsible for the low number of incomes accrued by the artisans, tech officials and some other entrepreneurs.

“The siting of a university in a particular environment improves the society in many ways. One of these ways is the development of small businesses in that community even if it is limited to low number of population but with time, the market gets increased,” Zainab Adebisi informs Abitocitta. “The extension of businesses and markets of different types scale up on a daily basis and that’s great- people are fighting poverty with commitments.”

In her own view, Shakirah Adeleke, a 200L Nursing student in Uthman Danfodio University Sokoto said: “The yearly admission of new students in the school craves for more small business creation in the university environment and this in no small way grow the existing businesses in the campus areas.”

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