When I met my friend, Kyra Maya Philips in the summer of 2011 in Kumasi Ghana, we all came to the summit for Pre-Rio 2012 West Africa Regional planning meeting. She was supporting the International Partner for the event, Peace Child International, UK. She shared with me that she will be co-authoring a book with her friend Alexa Clay, who later became a virtual friend too. On the Misfit Economy: lessons in creativity from pirates, hackers, gangsters, and other informal entrepreneurs. I tried to lobby her to visit Nigeria for the research work for the book, I did not succeed. Guess I was still at the 101 lobbying skills class then. Move forward to 2017, the book is an international best seller, translated into two other languages. Published in 2015 by Simon & Schuster (get yourself a copy of it and you will thank me later) it is lessons and reviews from the book based on my own person insights that I based my first article for the herald this year 2017 on: Time to look to the misfits sector to help boost our failing economic woes as a Nation and hopefully the new incoming Governor of Ondo states would look into it to grow his revenue sources.
When we talk about entrepreneurs and great inventors, our minds is quick to run to the likes of Steve Jobs, Musk, etc., but truth be told around the world and in even in Nigeria, ‘diverse innovators operating in the black, gray, and informal markets are developing solutions to a myriad of challenges. Far from being “deviant entrepreneurs” who pose threats to our social and economic stability, these innovators display remarkable ingenuity, pioneering original methods that we can learn from and apply to formal markets.’
The other day, I was watching the news and I heard how illegal refineries discovered in the Niger-Delta, by the Military was destroyed; everywhere across Nigeria, especially in North-East and North-Central states, you see illegal mining activities. The question that should come to mind is how we can tap into the ingenuity of these guys. You move around the country you see young men that have never had any formal education fixing phones and electronics. In my undergraduates days, while volunteering at the Prisons in Makurdi, with the group Student in Free Enterprise (now ENACTUS), I saw inmates with various skills fixing electronics gadgets that technicians outside the walls of the prisons could not fix.
Like we know misfits practically challenge established practices of existing systems, pushing boundaries and exploring opportunities that others feel has too much risks. As a Nation we have become a conformist and it has stopped us from allowing a creative destruction to take place, we are scared. I think why loads of Nigerians voted for a change government in 2015 is for this creative destruction to take place. The Book Misfit, was centred on five ways to unleashing the inner misfit, which were hustle, copy, hack, provoke, and pivot. I will advise you get the book and help yourself.
My ambition for this article is to stir the need for us to look to the underground world and see how all this informal innovators can be brought into the main system, as good as the new refinery Dangote will gift us come 2019, it will not serve, how do we make this boys in the creek formal refining in safety using locally sources equipment’s. How do we make the illegal miners across the country contribute into the former system? Instead of having a civil service that adds little or nothing into the economy. A huge governance bills, with no contribution. A local farmer in Nigeria adds more value to the economy than an average Senator in Nigeria.
Right governance structures can give us passionate citizens, highly committed, diligent and innovative young people.
In Conclusion let’s share this line from my friend’s book, The Misfit Economy “A business is no longer just about conforming to a job description but about to unlocking the entrepreneurial and positive deviance of employees. Innovation is no longer just about the newest gadget but about addressing our deepest needs as a global community…”
So even if you work for the Government or a private company you must bring creativeness to deliver on your mandate. We cannot all have start-ups, some of us must be in existing organisation creating change. The question here is, is our Government businesses taking that into considerations or employees developing themselves, while employers are also investing in developing their staffs.
Still from the Book The Misfit Economy, “Students no longer work to fit themselves into educational environment to “consume” knowledge, but direct their own studies to develop their passions and knowledge in collaboration with others.” The question is our own Education taking care of that?
Developed Economy like the EU, US, China and co. Are looking to the misfit world to run things; so what are we waiting for?