Coincidentally related to the previous post, Nigerian journalist Habiba Balogun has outlined why she believe Lebanese businesses in Nigeria do generally better than one’s owned and run by the local population:
- The Lebanese set up businesses as their livelihood, not as business investment or future institutions.
- Their businesses are family businesses. There is an expectation of family members and children to be loyal and to do their duty by serving in the business and securing the livelihood of the larger family.
- They are integrated into their communities in whichever country they are settled in. Their children go to local schools and the Lebanese school is open to others.
- They are religious and participate with Nigerians in the rituals of the two major faiths.
- As individuals, they do not put on airs and graces, or ‘big-manism’ no matter how wealthy they are.
- They rarely get bigger than their businesses or seek to be celebrities in their own right.
- They get their hands dirty in their businesses, so no aspect goes unnoticed by the boss, and the staff know this. They are not too big to clear restaurant tables, for example. As contractors, they expect to give and receive favours and yet, crucially, they generally deliver the goods, though sometimes at minimum standard.
- They are skilled at relationship management and make loyal and useful friends in business and politics.
- They produce and sell what they know well, and from competitive sources that they can control, like other Lebanese businesses here or in Beirut.
Dubbed the Lebo-Model, Habiba believes these are traits that make a successful family business work. Of course, she acknowledges the gross generalization as well as the anecdotal evidence to support her claims but it does give a breath of fresh air in terms of how Africans, particularly Nigerians usually view Lebanese.