NOTE: Article first appeared in The Citizen newspaper on April 9, 2014.
You can find anything from vegetables to groceries and a unique haircut to traditional clothing when you visit the Nigerian shop-owners in Braamfontein.
It is a busy area, with loud Nigerian music playing in the shops where both foreigners and students do business.
It is also known as Little Lagos by students who stay nearby.
Some of the Nigerian entrepreneurs in downtown Johannesburg told The Citizen they were happy to hear their mother country’s economy had overtaken South Africa as the continent’s largest.
Biccard Street in Braamfontein has quite a few Nigerian-owned businesses that bring competitive services and products to consumers. Everything from salons, to Internet cafes, gyms and clothing stores line the busy street.
Oluwadamilola Apotieri, a Nigerian business owner in the area, said while the GDP takeover was good news, the truth of the matter is that it will not put food on the table of the poor. “It will not reduce the level of poverty. It will only add up to the political mumbo jumbo.”
Apotieri attributed Nigerian business people’s success to zeal. “Nigerian entrepreneurs do not mind spending time, money and energy to build.”
Ameck Ottance, a dressmaker at Graceland Fashion Design, said: “Nigerians are business-minded people. You can see that from the businesses on this street.”
Evans Emeafo, manager and stylist at a hair salon, said his trade secret lays in “keeping it in the family”.
The salon he works at is owned by his brother and their employees are all family members.
Emeafo said he “was happy that the Nigerian economy was doing so well”, but so was his business. He sees no reason to move back home.