Africa is a continent of the future with rapidly growing economies and populations. International business has always been an important channel for countries to relate to each other, worldwide, as business owners are continuously looking for new business opportunities abroad. As Africa’s political and economic weight increases, it is becoming more interesting globally regarding business opportunities. Although Finland has published its Africa strategy in 2021 (Link 1), which aims for stronger political and economic partnership, Finnish companies have a long way to go when it comes to internationalising their businesses on the African continent.
It is quite common to be faced with challenges when starting any new business relationship, even more so when doing international business, as this involves cross-cultural elements. Nigeria and Finland do not share the same culture and the business relationship between Finland and Nigeria has been cautious, especially from the side of Finnish companies. However, there is significant business potential for Finnish companies in Nigeria. Potential solutions to help break down some barriers between Finland and Nigeria were explored in a qualitative study carried out on nine Finnish business owners / companies that have experience of conducting business in Nigeria (Ajao 2021).
Recommendations to Finnish companies wishing to conduct business in Nigeria
Finnish companies should acquire knowhow of Nigerian culture before embarking on business transactions in Nigeria.
The recommendations (Ajao 2021) include following advice:
- Finnish companies should build a trustworthy relationship upfront
- business actors should engage a guide before starting a business relationship with Nigerians
- it is recommended to collaborate with Business Finland in Nigeria, the Finnish-Nigeria Forum for Commerce and Investment, Finland Chamber of Commerce, Nordic Nigeria Connect event, and the Embassy of Finland in Abuja, Nigeria (Links 2‒5; see also NordicNigeriaConnect 2021)
- it is wise to avoid places where there are usually turbulences, such as the northern part of Nigeria
Additionally, engaging Nigerians living in Finland in the process can be recommended, especially the ones with a background of international business studies; they can act as intermediaries between Finnish and Nigerian companies interested in doing business in Nigeria.
Potential business opportunities in Nigeria
The need to enhance cross border co-operation and business activities between the African continent and Finland has been recognised (see e.g. Impiö et al. 2020). The importance of understanding culture and cultural differences is the key steppingstone in commencing cross-cultural business activities, an issue which should be taken into consideration by the management of companies when choosing boards or executive members, to better prepare organisations enter new markets.
Peter Ajao graduated from LAB University of Applied Sciences, Master’s Degree Programme in International Business Development.
Taina Vuorela works as Principal Lecturer at Laurea University of Applied Sciences.
Kristiina Brusila-Meltovaara works as Principal Lecturer at LAB University of Applied Sciences.
Ajao, P. 2021. The business relationship between Finland and Nigeria: is culture responsible for the challenges Finnish companies face? Master’s Thesis. LAB University of Applied Sciences, Lahti. Cited 22 Feb 2022. Available at https://www.theseus.fi/handle/10024/556613
Impiö, J., Nokelainen, P., Vuorio, P. & Ranta, J. 2020. Afrikka-politiikan uusi aika. Kuinka moninkertaistamme kaupan ja kehitysvaikutukset? Helsinki: Elinkeinoelämän keskusliitto EK. Cited 15 Mar 2022. Available at Afrikka-politiikan-uusi-aika_EK_01072020.pdf
NordicNigeriaConnect. 2021. Introducing Nordic Nigeria Connect 2021. Cited 22 Feb 2022. Available at https://www.nordicnigeriaconnect.com/
Link 1. Valtioneuvosto. Finland´s Africa Strategy. 2021. Towards a stronger political and economic partnership. Valtioneuvoston julkaisuja 21:21. Cited 15 Mar 2022. Available at https://julkaisut.valtioneuvosto.fi/bitstream/handle/10024/162978/VN_2021_21.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
Link 2. Business Finland. 2021. Marketing Opportunities in the region. Cited 22 Feb 2022. Available at https://www.marketopportunities.fi/SysSiteAssets/market-opportunities/banner-images/oppspace-banner-images/ict-telecom.jpg?w=270
Link 3. Finnish-Nigeria Forum for Commerce Investment. 2022. Facebook. Cited 20 Mar 2022. Available at https://www.facebook.com/Finnish-Nigeria-Forum-for-Commerce-Investment-907091689349142/?ref=page_internal&mt_nav=0&_rdr
Link 4. Finland Chamber of Commerce. Kauppakamari. 2022. Solutions for Finland. Cited 22 Feb 2022. Available at https://kauppakamari.fi/