How to find the right business partner in Nigeria

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Without a trustworthy local partner a successful market entry is almost impossible. This applies especially for Nigeria, where foreign companies willing to do business must be represented by a locally registered, authorized Nigerian agent.

Despite the fact that both local business partners and representatives of authorities are very interested in business relations with European and primarily German companies, many companies describe the search for suitable distributors as long and difficult.

According to our experience, this is due to the fact that the selection of reliable distributors in Nigeria with the appropriate know-how and the necessary network is very time-consuming and especially the larger suppliers may not be interested in new partnerships. Often, however, other reasons also play a role why partnerships are not expanded or do not come about at all. Therefore, proper preparation for planned export activities is of special importance.

First of all, information and knowledge about the target country is essential, especially of course about the local economic and cultural conditions. Without this knowledge, setting suitable objectives is already a problem, which should be adapted to the target country. Furthermore, many local partners can only be convinced if the export activities are not designed for short-term profits, but for long-term and sustainable cooperation. In the best case, the local partner should have the feeling that you as an exporter are aware of the problems in the country and have an active interest in improving the situation in the target country (win-win-win mindset). When looking for a suitable local partner, it helps to image the ideal business partner: which characteristics, knowledge and skills should the potential partner bring into the cooperation and how should this cooperation ultimately be structured? A good starting point is the development of own criteria, which already limit the search by reasonable parameters. Understanding the goals and interests of the local partner is also very important in order to get a feeling for the partner’s behavior and background. In any case, the use of due diligence practices is recommended to avoid disappointment and legal difficulties. This includes a thorough background check of the potential business partner including the financial resources at hand.

Besides these issues, personal contact is of utmost importance in Nigeria. Therefore, it makes sense to get support from market entry specialists if necessary and to organize a business initiation trip as part of the cooperation, which enables personal contacts.

In the next article we will post 10 tips that can facilitate the search for a suitable local partner. These 10 tips are the result of many years of experience in the field of market entry and are intended to help in finding the right partner and thus significantly raise the chance of a successful first step into the new market. Stay tuned!

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