The 419 And Business Excellence

Why are we not encouraging the “Nigerian Letter” as a paradigm of both successful entrepreneurship and foreign aid? On the first head, the spending of a few naira in Internet cafes can net an unemployed semi-literate tens of thousands of dollars; this is a return on capital that the business schools should be studying. As far as anyone can see, the barriers to entry are low, while perfect competition rules; the spoils go, presumably, to the author who has managed to make his product (the unexpected offer from the widows of dead dictators and so forth) slightly less astonishingly improbable than those of his peers. Western advertising agencies struggle to persuade an increasingly blasé population to believe their messages, and yet here people are being separated from hundreds of millions of dollars every year with nary an art video or logo brainstorming session to be seen. If departments of communication theory are not studying the phenomenon, one wonders why not.

Under another head, as foreign aid this is extraordinary efficient: these hundreds of millions of dollars are being transferred neatly into the accounts of ordinary Africans, whose entrepreneurial talents have already been demonstrated, without as far as we can see passing through the pockets of politicians and fixers. But perhaps the latter is precisely what we don’t like about it; behold, all this money is pouring into the slums of Lagos, and absolutely none of it is coming back to line the pockets of Western aid barons.

Posted on March 11, 2010 at 12:08 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: MONKEY BUSINESS, Management As Cargo Cult

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