Entrepreneurship in Lagos

I’m finally getting to my November 13 New Yorker Magazine, which has an awesome, sprawling profile of Lagos by George Packer. I couldn’t find it on the New Yorker’s website, but Google found it mirrored here.

One line jumped out at me last night as I was reading it. It made me think about the entrepreneurs I know and wonder what drives them to hustle so hard:

“I asked Patti Okunlola, an editor at the Nigerian newspaper the Guardian, why people kept coming to Lagos, when there seemed so little chance of getting ahead. ‘They never believe there’s no chance,’ he said. Okuulola described the largest market in Lagos: the Mile 12, on the highway heading north out of town, where foodstuff coming into the city is bought and sold wholesale. It is a muddy area–much of Lagos is reclaimed swampland–and workers with buckets of water earn seven cents washing the feet of market women. ‘That is the kind of entrepreneurship that keeps a lot of people in Lagos,’ Okunlola said. ‘If you took that to my home town, who would wash feet–and who would pay money for it, anyway? That is what drives Lagos.'”