IGBO TRADE APPRENTICESHIP SYSTEM
The Igbos are entrepreneurs in nature; they are known for being successful in business and entrepreneurship. The Igbo apprenticeship system is an old cultural apprenticeship practice whereby successful trade owners train younger boys in the same trade line. Imu-Ahia, the Igbo apprenticeship system is an informal system where established business owners take in young boys and train them in their line of business while they serve as apprentices. Imu-Ahia literally translated as ‘to learn marketing’ is an integral part of Igbo culture. The Imu-Ahia process in some Igbo villages begins with a formal traditional handing over ceremony between the young boy’s family, the ‘Oga’ and respected elders as witnesses. Here, the Oga states his expectations and assures the family of the boy’s welfare, while the family admonish the boy to remain faithful, honest and hardworking to his Oga.
This is a poverty preventing method aimed at lifting others employed by the Igbos. Young boys (Umu-boi) learn business/trade methods from their master (Oga) for a certain period usually between five to ten years (depending on the agreement made before it commencement between the boys’ families and their masters). During this period, they will live with their masters, who in turn feed, clothe and shelter them. At the end of their apprenticeship year, gets cash support to start their own business (settlement) from their masters.
The Igbo apprenticeship system has been recognized as the largest business incubator in the world as thousands of ventures are developed and established yearly through it. Innocent Chukwuma, the founder of Innoson Motors, the largest indigenous automobile manufacturing company by sales in Africa, is a product of Igbo apprenticeship system. So is Ifeanyi Ubah, the owner of one of the largest private fuel depots in Africa, Capital Oil & Gas, which has the biggest private oil jetty in Nigeria, an 18-ARM loading gantry, ocean-going vessels, a storage facility of over 200 million liters, and hundreds of distribution tankers. Cosmas Maduka, who controls Coscharis Group, a conglomerate with diverse interest in manufacturing, automobiles, and petrochemicals, also passed through the system. Unlike Ubah and Chukwuma, who finished primary education but dropped out at the secondary level, Maduka did not finish primary school. Until recently, that was typical; education has instead been the apprenticeship model, where an individual learns the mechanics of markets and business secrets under a master.
The Igbo apprenticeship system is not only the world’s largest Business Incubator. But it has produced more US dollar millionaires per capita than either Harvard or Yale universities. To understand money, you must understand the Igbo race. Igbo is synonymous with SUCCESS. No other race on Earth, with perhaps the exception of the Jews, have a better excuse to be poor, as the Igbos. Militarily defeated and financially devastated in 1970, they overcame that in less than a generation, and prospered above any other ethnicity in Africa, bar NONE!