Yale School of Management Graduate Students Experience Warmth and Hospitality of Nigeria While Learning About its Private, Public, and Nonprofit Institutions
New Haven, Conn.-March 25, 2004-A team of Yale SOM students just returned from their Spring Break excursion to Nigeria. Representing different academic disciplines and cultural backgrounds, the student "ambassadors" had a unique experience in the West African nation that has undergone major democratic and economic changes in a short time.
Jide Olateju (SOM '04), a native of Nigeria, proposed the idea for the trip to show his fellow students the beauty and economic possibilities that exist in his country. Mr. Olateju is pursuing a dual-master's degree program in international relations and management at Yale SOM. "The images that many people have of Nigeria are not those of its entrepreneurial spirit and strength, but its supposed fraud, corruption, and instability." He is excited that his colleagues chose to accompany him on this trip back home.
In Abuja, the students engaged in serious dialogues with government leaders of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission, Central Bank of Nigeria, Federal Capital Territory, Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation, and Bauchi State Government. Utilizing their expertise and experiences in various fields, the students asked tough questions ranging from water distribution to future domestic and international economic policy decisions.
Mr. Olateju has been overwhelmed. "The response, hospitality, and generosity from the Nigerian organizations have been tremendous. I am deeply grateful to them for helping me show the strengths of Nigeria."
These include acts that protect investors from nationalization of their assets and assure that profits may be repatriated, and services provided by the NDIC to help foreign investors identify attractive investments and find local, joint-venture partners who are knowledgeable about domestic business issues.
In Lagos, the students visited the firms of Accenture, KPMG, and PricewaterhouseCoopers and gained a private sector viewpoint of the governmental reforms. They interacted with successful entrepreneurs at the Fate Foundation, and engaged in a discussion about whether entrepreneurship is born or taught. The University of Lagos warmly welcomed the Yale delegation with a full day of activities, including a vibrant cultural performance from students ages 10 to 25.
While many of their colleagues enjoyed the white sand beaches of Cancun and Brazil, these future world leaders learned about the institutions of Nigeria.
Of course, they did schedule time for fun, including a tour of the Yankari Game Reserve where they were fortunate to swim in the pristine Wikki Warm Springs and to catch a glimpse of two lionesses waiting for their prey. The students have also had a chance to apply microeconomic concept of competitive, open markets while bargaining for Nigerian clothing and crafts in Wuse and Leiki Markets.
The Yale SOM students who organized and attended the trip are: Jide Olateju ('04), Jennifer Baron ('04), Mark Dinner ('05), Nilanjan Adhya ('05), Kateri Benoit ('05) and Monisha Merchant ('04). Additional participants: Matthew Muspratt (FES), Jan-Frederich Bruenings (Econ), Martin Krause (Econ), Jaynie Randall (YLS), Andrea Humphrey (EPH).