Indigenous entrepreneurship and cross-border trade in Nigeria
The study examines an aspect of indigenous Nigerian entrepreneurship, focusing on the cross-border trade in South-Western Nigeria. An almost total ignorance of how the traders go about their business, coupled with an unwelcoming trading environment, appear to have caused the antipathy of policy planners, and dearth of academic research in the area. The dearth of research is of particular concern here hence the need to "go back to basics", as it were, and focus the research in the first instance, on what the trade is in fact all about. The study focuses therefore on a descriptive analysis of the cross-border trade itself as an indigenous exporting activity, in particular the role of the small businesses who, in numerical terms at least, dominate the trade. It is expected that this will lead to future, more sector and area-specific studies on the subject. The cross-border trade takes place in an environment of illegality, corruption, and an unstable local economy, which makes trading conditions difficult, and would ordinarily seem to prevent traders from exercising their enterprise other than for mere survival on the economic fringes. Policy planners are also quick to argue that the trade is merely a smugglers' arena that contributes nothing to national development and in fact needs to be eliminated in aid of the development process. These reinforce the development literature which envisages only a limited role for indigenous entrepreneurship in economic development. The findings in this study however suggest another interpretation. It is argued that the trading environment as it is in fact provides opportunities which seem to have encouraged the emergence of an entrepreneurial class, and that though largely invisible, greater capital accumulation than is usually thought appears to be taking place, suggesting a more significant role for indigenous entrepreneurs in the development process. Between chapters 1 and 5, a case is presented for why existing trade and development theories have only a limited application to the development process in less developed countries like Nigeria. Chapters 6 and 7 introduce the surveys which indicate the performance and strategy of a sample of producers and traders. Subsequently relying mainly, but not exclusively on anthropologically-oriented material, the study focuses, in chapters 8 and 9, on the actors and activities in three cross-border trade routes, exploring the ways in which the traders relate to one another and to other participants in the trade. Further attention is paid to the ways in which the trade survives, evolves and develops, in spite of considerable environmental difficulties. While the study does not dispute that there are several smugglers and other law-breakers in the cross-border trade traffic, it argues further that considerable legitimate, but unrecorded trade goes on across the borders by several dedicated producers and traders. Certain theoretical implications arising from the study are discussed as areas for further study, while other, more practical recommendations, are suggested to policy planners, which may be beneficial both to them and to the traders in the future developments of the trade.