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12 Aug Written by 

Lessons from Israel

Nigeria is on a road to development. Many will argue it is not even on the right track while some will say we are indeed getting close to Eldorado. Whatever the case is, there is a path to be taken for development and if done the right way, it is only a matter of time before the fruits of development start birthing the positive realities it is known to bear. The beauty of the evolution of emerging markets like Nigeria is that they have the luxury of going straight to what works rather than the trial and error method some countries had to go through because they were trailblazers. Several other countries have travelled the road to development that we seek to travel and it’d help to learn a thing or two from them. We cannot afford to copy and paste ideas and policies but we can certainly learn a thing or two by copying in ways that pay attention to our peculiarities and deploying solutions that fit into our system. Israel is a country we can learn a lot from.

Almost 8 million people, a dearth of natural resources, a desert over half the land, countless wars and an ever-present threat of terrorism, enemies at the borders and a pariah nation in its sub-region, the middle-eastern nation of Israel always has its hands full. Its politics angers the world, its haughtiness and brazenness win it more enemies than friends but within the borders of this nation lie realities that have been clouded by its many controversial appearances in the global news. The Israeli economy grew 50 times between 1948 and 2008 and continues to be home to some of the world’s most crucial startup companies. Despite its relatively smaller population, Israel produces more start-ups than Korea, Canada, India, Japan and the United Kingdom. It is a country where entrepreneurship thrives. You are not thrown aside by the society for failing at a business, you are allowed to stay and get it right yourself or teach others how not to fail. The results are astounding.

Venture capitalists have taken to Israel because of the innovative spirit of its citizens and the willingness of the country to try new ideas. Israel today boasts the highest density of start-ups in the world. There are 3,850 start-ups for every 1844 Israelis. According to Dan Senor and Saul Singer in 'Start-up Nation,' per capita venture capital investments in Israel in 2008 were 2.5 times greater than in the United States, 30 times more than in Europe, 80 times more than in China and 350 times more than that of India.  It must be stated that the resources attracted by these Israeli start-ups were not as a result of several foreign travels by its government in search of foreign investors but the result of venture capitalists looking to cash in on the drive, innovativeness and the ingenuity of Israeli start-ups. The nation has since focused on this strength and continues to produce new entrepreneurs by the tick of the clock even as innovation continues on all fronts.

Every nation on earth, no matter how big or small, has something within itself and its people that the world needs and would be willing to pay for. For Nigeria, oil comes to mind but Nigeria is beyond oil. The people of Nigeria are just as entrepreneurial as the most driven ones you’d see anywhere in the world. While entrepreneurs in most other climes are assisted by the state through the right policies and the development of infrastructure, Nigerian entrepreneurs have to battle even the state to survive. Our desperation to always look abroad for help has meant that we have relegated our own people with unique abilities to toil with the inefficiencies of the system, sometimes battling the agencies and workings of the state to get started let alone to thrive. How can we attain development without encouraging entrepreneurs? They built the economies of places like Israel and the United States, and Nigeria can achieve a lot by just allowing these ones breathe.

Dog