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Why Igbo Apprenticeship is World’s Largest Business Incubator System – Prof

Professor Ogechi Adeola speaking at the 15th Inaugural Lecture of Pan-Atlantic University on Friday.

Ogechi Adeola, a marketing professor at Pan-Atlantic University in Lagos State, has demonstrated why the Igbo apprenticeship system is the world’s largest company incubator system.

Adeola, who is the Head of the Department Marketing, Operations and  Information Systems at the LBS, while speaking at the 15th Inaugural Lecture of the institution titled, “Decolonising Africa’s Business  Practices: Pro-Indigenous Marketing Pathways To A Paradigm Shift”, monitored by The PUNCH on Friday, said Igbo apprentices are groomed at a very young age to be great businessmen and women.

She leveraged her research on a couple of books she had authored and co-authored including ‘Indigenous African Enterprise’ and ‘Igba boi’ which she said gave an insight into the Igbo apprentice system commonly referred to as ′Igba-Odibo/Igba-Boi/Imu-Ahia/Imu-Oru′ is a framework of formal and informal indentured agreements between parties that ultimately facilitate burgeoning entrepreneurial communities within the Igbo people.

“The system has three major types namely, Igba-boi also known as Igba Odibo (become an apprentice); Imu Oru also known as Imu Oruaka (learn a craft) and Imu Ahia (learn a trade).

“All types are geared towards the transfer of knowledge or entrepreneurial skills but they differ in approach.

“Unlike the Igba-boi/Igba Odibo where a mentee will be tutored for free for a period of pre-agreed years, in the Imu Oru/Imu Oruaka and Imu Ahia types, tutorship is paid for by the mentee or mentee’s parents/sponsors.

In a 2017 TedTalk presentation, an American journalist, Robert Neuwirth, called the Igbo people’s ‘Igba Boi’ plan as “the largest business incubator platform in the world,” according to the professor.

She stated that Neuwirth saw the Alaba International Market, where 10,000 merchants transact for more than $4 billion per year, and found the sharing concept that underpins it.

She went on to discuss what sparked her significant interest in Africa, citing The Economist’s ‘Hopeless Continent’ piece from 2000, which said that the new millennium had “brought more disaster than hope to Africa.”

She also shared her journey towards reshaping the ‘wrong’ characterisation in the article and others, such as Time’s tripartite – Agony of Africa, The Hopeless Continent, and Aids in Africa, published in 1992, 2000, and 2001, respectively, while writing against them all to protect the Africa of her dreams at a very young age.

However, Adeola said she was pleased to read The Economist publication of December 3, 2011, titled, Africa Rising’ appraising African ethos saying, “I could see the sun. Africa now has a real chance of following in the footsteps of Asia. So, from a hopeless continent to a rising one.”

The academic pleaded with youths leaving the country to put Africa in the spotlight by marketing the continent as a sellable point to the world.

Among those in attendance at the event were the institution’s Vice Chancellor, Prof Enase Okonedo; Registrar, Mr Kingsley Ukaoha; Dean of Media and Communication, Dr Ikechukwu Obiaya; Associate Dean of LBS, Prof Olayinka David-West; Dean of Science and Technology, Dr Darlington Ahano; husband, siblings of the lecturer and other well-wishers.

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