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In Lagos, Selling The African Dream


by Lou Saunders



Welcome to Lagos, the vibrant and bustling metropolis that embodies the spirit of the African Dream. Nestled along the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, Lagos is not only Nigeria’s commercial capital but also a melting pot of cultures, ideas, and aspirations. With its rapid urbanization and entrepreneurial spirit, Lagos has become a hub for those seeking to carve out their own path towards success.


In this article, we will delve into the history, opportunities, challenges, and unique aspects that make Lagos a beacon for individuals in pursuit of the African Dream. We will explore how entrepreneurship, technology, and the real estate market have shaped the landscape of this city and examine the role of the cultural scene in fostering a sense of African identity.


From its humble beginnings as a fishing village to its present status as a major economic center, Lagos has undergone remarkable growth and transformation. Its history is intertwined with the tale of colonization, independence, and urbanization that characterizes much of Africa’s modern history. Today, Lagos represents a microcosm of the continent’s ambitions and challenges.


The African Dream is a concept that encompasses the vision of a prosperous and empowered Africa, where individuals have the opportunity to achieve their goals and make a positive impact on society. In Lagos, this dream takes on a tangible form as ambitious entrepreneurs and professionals strive to overcome obstacles, leverage opportunities, and create a better future for themselves and their communities.


However, pursuing the African Dream in Lagos is not without its challenges. Rapid urbanization has led to issues such as overpopulation, traffic congestion, and inadequate infrastructure. Yet, the indomitable spirit and resilience of Lagosians have allowed them to adapt and find innovative solutions to these challenges, creating a vibrant and dynamic city landscape.


Throughout this article, we will explore the stories of successful entrepreneurs who have risen above the odds and built thriving businesses in Lagos. We will also examine the impact of technology on the local business scene and take a closer look at the ever-evolving real estate market, which plays a pivotal role in the city’s economic growth.


Furthermore, we will delve into the cultural scene in Lagos, highlighting how it celebrates and promotes African identity. From music and art to fashion and cuisine, Lagos is a hub of creativity and artistic expression, showcasing the diverse and rich cultural heritage of the African continent.


Join us on this captivating journey as we uncover the charm, the passion, and the spirit of Lagos – a city that exemplifies the pursuit of the African Dream.


The History of Lagos

Lagos, with its rich and complex history, serves as a testament to the resilience and dynamism of the African people. Originally settled by the Awori people, Lagos developed into a thriving commercial center due to its strategic location and proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. The name “Lagos” is derived from the Portuguese word for “lakes,” in reference to the lagoons that surround the area.


In the 15th century, Lagos became a significant trading post for European explorers, particularly the Portuguese. It served as a hub for the transatlantic slave trade, with millions of Africans passing through its shores in the brutal and dehumanizing journey across the Atlantic.


The 19th century saw a series of power shifts that shaped the destiny of Lagos. It was eventually annexed by the British in 1861 and became a major center of administration for the colonial powers. Under British rule, Lagos experienced significant urbanization and modernization, with the establishment of key infrastructure and institutions.


With the independence of Nigeria in 1960, Lagos became the capital of the newly formed nation. This elevated its status as an economic and political center, attracting people from all over the country in search of opportunities. However, in 1991, Abuja was designated as the capital, leading to a gradual shift in administrative power away from Lagos.


Today, Lagos is known as Nigeria’s commercial capital and a vibrant megacity. Its history as a trading hub and cosmopolitan center is evident in its eclectic architectural styles, diverse population, and the fusion of cultures and traditions. From the historic neighborhood of Ikoyi, with its colonial-era buildings, to the bustling markets of Oshodi, Lagos is a mosaic of influences and stories.


Despite the challenges faced throughout its history, including periods of political and economic instability, Lagos has emerged as a city of resilience, innovation, and economic opportunity. Its strategic location, vibrant energy, and entrepreneurial spirit have made it a hub for business, attracting both local and international investors.


As we explore the African Dream in Lagos, understanding the historical context provides a foundation for appreciating the growth, progress, and aspirations of its people. By embracing and learning from the past, Lagos continues to shape its future, offering a symbol of hope and inspiration for those seeking to fulfill their own dreams.


The African Dream: An Overview

The African Dream represents the collective vision of a prosperous and empowered Africa, where individuals have the opportunity to thrive, contribute to their communities, and shape a brighter future. It is a concept that embodies the aspirations and hopes of Africans across the continent and in the diaspora.


The African Dream is about transcending the challenges and stereotypes that have often plagued Africa, and highlighting the immense potential that the continent holds. It is rooted in the belief that Africa’s rich cultural heritage, natural resources, and diverse talents can be leveraged for sustainable development and progress.


In the context of Lagos, the pursuit of the African Dream is palpable. The city serves as a microcosm of the continent’s aspirations and challenges, attracting individuals from all walks of life who seek to make their mark and contribute to Africa’s growth story.


At its core, the African Dream is about economic empowerment and improving livelihoods. It encompasses the desire for inclusive growth, where opportunities are accessible to all, regardless of background or circumstances. This is particularly relevant in Lagos, where entrepreneurship thrives and small businesses play a vital role in economic development.


The African Dream goes beyond economic prosperity. It also encompasses social and political empowerment, gender equality, access to education and healthcare, and sustainable development. Movements advocating for social justice, environmental conservation, and human rights are integral to the African Dream, as they work towards creating a more equitable and just society.


In Lagos, the pursuit of the African Dream is often fueled by resilience, tenacity, and a deep sense of community. As individuals overcome obstacles and find creative solutions to the challenges they face, they inspire and uplift others, creating a ripple effect of progress and change.


One of the driving forces behind the African Dream is the belief in the transformative power of education. In Lagos, educational institutions, both traditional and innovative, are equipping individuals with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in a rapidly changing global economy.


The African Dream is not limited to those who are born on the continent. It extends to the African diaspora who are passionate about contributing to Africa’s development and reconnecting with their roots. Lagos provides a vibrant and dynamic platform for individuals to reconnect, collaborate, and contribute to the African Dream.


As we explore the African Dream in Lagos, it is important to recognize the interconnectedness of individuals’ aspirations with the larger vision for the continent. By supporting and amplifying the voices of those who are pursuing their dreams in Lagos, we contribute to the collective effort to unlock Africa’s potential and shape a prosperous future for all.


Opportunities and Challenges in Lagos

Lagos, as a vibrant and rapidly growing city, offers a myriad of opportunities for those seeking personal and professional growth. Its bustling economy, diverse market, and entrepreneurial spirit make it an attractive destination for individuals looking to pursue their dreams. However, like any thriving metropolis, Lagos also presents its fair share of challenges.


One of the key opportunities in Lagos lies in its thriving business environment. The city is a hub for various industries, such as finance, technology, real estate, entertainment, and fashion. This presents a wide range of opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs and professionals to establish successful ventures and thrive in their respective fields. The city’s large population and growing middle class create a significant consumer market, providing ample opportunities for businesses to flourish.


Lagos is also a center for innovation and technology. With the emergence of tech hubs and incubators, the city has become a breeding ground for startups, attracting investors and fostering a culture of innovation. Technologies such as artificial intelligence, fintech, and e-commerce have revolutionized various sectors in Lagos, offering new avenues for growth and transformation.


Furthermore, Lagos is a melting pot of cultures, making it a hub for creative industries. The city boasts a vibrant arts scene, with galleries, music festivals, and fashion shows that showcase the immense talent and creativity of Lagosians. This creates opportunities for artists, designers, musicians, and performers to showcase their work and connect with a global audience.


However, alongside these opportunities, Lagos also faces certain challenges. One of the most pressing is the issue of infrastructure. The rapid urbanization and population growth have put a strain on existing infrastructure, leading to problems such as traffic congestion, inadequate housing, and unreliable utilities. Improving infrastructure is crucial to sustain the city’s growth and enhance the quality of life for its residents.


Another challenge is the issue of inequality and poverty. While Lagos is home to a burgeoning middle class, there is still a significant proportion of the population living in poverty. Addressing socioeconomic disparities and ensuring inclusive growth is essential to create a city where everyone has the opportunity to thrive and contribute to the African Dream.


Additionally, the informal sector, which plays a significant role in Lagos’s economy, presents its own challenges. Many individuals engage in informal entrepreneurship, operating outside formal regulations. While this provides income-generating opportunities, it also means limited access to social security, financial services, and quality education. Building an enabling environment for small businesses and informal workers is crucial to harness their full potential and contribute to sustainable development.


Overcoming these challenges and leveraging the opportunities in Lagos requires innovative solutions, collaboration between the public and private sectors, and a commitment to inclusive growth. By addressing issues such as infrastructure, inequality, and informal sector development, Lagos can truly unlock its potential as a beacon of the African Dream.


The Role of Entrepreneurship in Pursuit of the African Dream

Entrepreneurship plays a vital role in the pursuit of the African Dream, providing individuals with the opportunity to create their own path, drive economic growth, and make a positive impact on society. In the context of Lagos, entrepreneurship has become a driving force behind the city’s development, offering a platform for individuals to realize their dreams and contribute to Africa’s progress.


One of the key advantages of entrepreneurship is the ability to create opportunities where they may not exist. In Lagos, where formal employment may be limited, entrepreneurship allows individuals to take charge of their own destiny and pursue their passions. Entrepreneurs have the freedom to identify gaps in the market, develop innovative solutions, and create businesses that address specific needs.


Entrepreneurship also fosters economic empowerment by generating employment opportunities. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Lagos make up a significant portion of the economy, creating jobs and contributing to poverty alleviation. By harnessing the power of entrepreneurship, individuals can create sustainable livelihoods for themselves and others, driving economic growth and reducing unemployment rates.


Moreover, entrepreneurship encourages creativity, problem-solving, and innovation. In Lagos, entrepreneurs are constantly adapting to challenges, finding innovative solutions, and embracing new technologies. This mindset of innovation creates a ripple effect, driving progress in various sectors and inspiring others to think outside the box.


Entrepreneurs also have the unique opportunity to drive social impact. Many entrepreneurs in Lagos are motivated not only by financial success but also by the desire to make a positive difference in their communities. They create businesses that address social issues, such as healthcare, education, and environmental sustainability. By combining profit with purpose, entrepreneurs contribute to the overall well-being of society and exemplify the spirit of the African Dream.


The pursuit of the African Dream through entrepreneurship is not without its challenges. Access to finance, limited infrastructure, and regulatory barriers can present obstacles to aspiring entrepreneurs. However, the entrepreneurial spirit in Lagos has proven to be resilient and resourceful. Initiatives such as microfinance programs, incubators, and business support organizations have been established to provide aspiring entrepreneurs with the necessary skills, funding, and mentorship to overcome these challenges.


Through entrepreneurship, individuals in Lagos are not only pursuing their own dreams but also driving economic growth, job creation, and social progress. As the city continues to evolve and embrace the entrepreneurial spirit, the African Dream becomes more tangible and achievable for individuals across the continent.


Case Studies of Successful Entrepreneurs in Lagos

Lagos is teeming with stories of successful entrepreneurs who have risen above challenges, embraced opportunities, and pursued their dreams with unwavering determination. These case studies illustrate the resilience, innovation, and ingenuity that define the entrepreneurial spirit of Lagos, and provide inspiration for others on their own path to success.


One notable success story is that of Kenechukwu Nzewi, founder of a tech startup that developed a mobile app for small-scale farmers. Recognizing the lack of access to information and market opportunities for farmers in rural areas, Nzewi created an app that provides real-time agricultural insights, weather updates, and pricing information. His company has transformed the lives of countless farmers, enabling them to make informed decisions, improve productivity, and connect with buyers directly. Nzewi’s story showcases how technology can be leveraged to address pressing challenges and create positive impact.


Another remarkable entrepreneur is Adaora Ikenze, who founded a social enterprise focused on empowering women in underserved communities through the production and sale of handmade jewelry. By training and employing women with limited economic opportunities, Ikenze’s organization has not only created a sustainable business but also uplifted women from poverty and provided them with financial independence. Her story exemplifies how entrepreneurship can be a powerful tool for social change and women’s empowerment in Lagos.


One more inspiring example is the success of Tunde Ekemode, the founder of a thriving e-commerce platform that connects local artisans with a global customer base. Ekemode recognized the abundance of talent and craftsmanship in Lagos and sought to give artisans the platform and exposure they deserved. Through his e-commerce platform, artisans can showcase and sell their unique products to customers worldwide. Ekemode’s story demonstrates how entrepreneurship can bridge the gap between local artisans and global markets, fostering economic growth and cultural exchange.


It is important to note that these success stories are just a glimpse of the diverse range of entrepreneurial endeavors in Lagos. From fashion designers and restaurateurs to tech innovators and renewable energy pioneers, the city is brimming with individuals who have not only transformed their own lives but also made a significant impact on their communities.


These case studies also underline the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Lagos. The city provides a supportive environment for entrepreneurs to thrive, with access to funding, mentorship, and networking opportunities. Initiatives such as incubators, accelerators, and entrepreneurship programs have played a crucial role in nurturing and fostering the growth of these successful entrepreneurs.


The case studies in Lagos demonstrate that entrepreneurship is a powerful catalyst for economic growth, social progress, and individual fulfillment. As more success stories emerge from Lagos, the city continues to inspire and motivate aspiring entrepreneurs, fueling the pursuit of the African Dream.


The Impact of Technology on Business in Lagos

Technology has revolutionized the business landscape in Lagos, empowering entrepreneurs, streamlining operations, and opening up new avenues for growth. From startups to established enterprises, businesses in Lagos have embraced technology to enhance productivity, reach wider audiences, and drive innovation across various sectors.


One of the profound impacts of technology on businesses in Lagos is the ability to overcome traditional constraints of time and space. The advent of e-commerce platforms and online marketplaces has democratized access to customers both locally and globally. Entrepreneurs can now showcase their products or services to a wider audience, ensuring increased visibility, sales, and business growth.


Fintech has also played a significant role in transforming the business landscape in Lagos. With the rise of mobile banking, payment gateways, and digital wallets, financial transactions have become seamless and accessible to a larger population. This has been a game-changer for small businesses, enabling them to transact more efficiently, receive payments in real-time, and access capital through online lending platforms.


Technology has also facilitated communication and collaboration within businesses. Cloud-based tools and project management software allow teams to work remotely and collaborate seamlessly, breaking down geographical barriers. This has had a significant impact on productivity, efficiency, and cost savings, especially in a city like Lagos where traffic congestion can be a major challenge.


Furthermore, the rise of data analytics and artificial intelligence has given businesses in Lagos a competitive edge. Companies can now harness data to gain insights into customer behavior, market trends, and operational efficiency. This allows for informed decision-making, personalized marketing strategies, and improved customer experiences.


Startups in Lagos have benefitted greatly from the technology ecosystem in the city. Tech hubs, incubators, and accelerator programs provide a nurturing environment for up-and-coming ventures, fueling innovation and entrepreneurial growth. These initiatives not only provide access to mentorship and funding but also foster a culture of collaboration and knowledge-sharing.


However, it is essential to recognize that there are still challenges in accessing and fully harnessing technology in Lagos. Internet connectivity, the digital divide, and affordability of devices remain areas that need improvement to ensure equal opportunities for all businesses and entrepreneurs.


Overall, the impact of technology on business in Lagos has been transformative. It has leveled the playing field, enabled scalability, and amplified the potential for success. The city continues to be at the forefront of technological innovation in Africa, embracing emerging technologies and leveraging them to drive economic growth and entrepreneurial endeavors.


A Closer Look at the Real Estate Market in Lagos

The real estate market in Lagos is a dynamic and evolving landscape, driven by a combination of factors including rapid urbanization, population growth, and increasing demand for residential and commercial properties. Lagos offers a diverse range of real estate opportunities, from luxury waterfront properties to affordable housing developments, making it an attractive destination for investors and individuals seeking homes or commercial spaces.


One of the key drivers of the real estate market in Lagos is the growing population. As more people migrate to the city in search of opportunities, the demand for housing continues to rise. This presents opportunities for property developers to meet the demand by providing high-quality housing options that cater to different income brackets. Affordable housing schemes and initiatives have also been implemented to address the housing needs of the lower-income population.


The increasing urbanization of Lagos has led to the development of new residential and commercial areas. Lekki, Victoria Island, and Ikoyi are some of the prime locations in Lagos known for their luxury properties, high-end retail outlets, and bustling commercial districts. These areas attract both local and international investors, driving property values and making them sought-after destinations in the real estate market.


Lagos is also experiencing a surge in mixed-use developments, where residential, commercial, and recreational spaces coexist. These developments offer convenience and a live-work-play lifestyle, appealing to a growing number of professionals and families. They often include amenities such as shopping centers, healthcare facilities, and recreational areas, creating vibrant communities within the city.


Technology and digital innovation have also influenced the real estate market in Lagos. Real estate platforms and online marketplaces have emerged to simplify property buying, selling, and renting processes. These platforms provide a wider reach, increased transparency, and convenience for both buyers and sellers, revolutionizing the way real estate transactions are conducted in Lagos.


However, the real estate market in Lagos is not without its challenges. Limited infrastructure, including inadequate road networks and unreliable utilities, pose challenges for property development and management. Additionally, issues such as land disputes, lack of clear property titles, and corruption can create uncertainties in the market.


Despite these challenges, the real estate market in Lagos continues to thrive. As the city grows and evolves, opportunities for investment and property development are abound. With the right strategies and a deep understanding of the market dynamics, investors and individuals can navigate the real estate landscape in Lagos and capitalize on the immense potential it offers.


The Cultural Scene in Lagos: Promoting African Identity

Lagos is not only a bustling economic center but also a vibrant hub of cultural expression and creativity. The city’s rich cultural scene plays a significant role in promoting African identity, celebrating the heritage, diversity, and artistic talents of the continent.


Music, art, fashion, and cuisine are integral components of the cultural tapestry of Lagos. The city has a thriving music industry, with genres such as Afrobeat, Afropop, and Highlife dominating the airwaves. Musicians like Fela Kuti, Burna Boy, and Wizkid have emerged from Lagos, gaining international recognition and influencing the global music scene. Lagos is also known for its lively music festivals and concerts, where artists from across the continent come together to showcase their talent and celebrate African rhythms and melodies.


The city’s art scene is equally vibrant, with numerous galleries, art studios, and exhibitions showcasing the works of both emerging and established artists. Lagos is home to the renowned Nike Art Gallery, which houses a vast collection of African art. From traditional sculptures and paintings to contemporary installations, the art scene in Lagos provides a platform for artistic expression, storytelling, and the preservation of cultural heritage.


Fashion in Lagos is a reflection of African creativity and style. Designers such as Tiffany Amber, Lisa Folawiyo, and Deola Sagoe have gained international acclaim for their innovative designs that fuse traditional African aesthetics with modern influences. Lagos Fashion Week, one of the leading fashion events on the continent, showcases the talent and diversity of African fashion, attracting designers, models, and fashion enthusiasts from around the world.


Cuisine in Lagos is a delightful fusion of traditional Nigerian flavors and international influences. The city is known for its vibrant street food culture, with roadside vendors offering mouthwatering delicacies such as suya (spiced grilled meat), jollof rice, and puff puff (deep-fried dough balls). Lagos also boasts a diverse culinary scene, with restaurants serving a wide range of international cuisines, including Lebanese, Chinese, Indian, and Italian, catering to the multicultural fabric of the city.


The cultural scene in Lagos not only celebrates African identity but also promotes cultural exchange and appreciation. Artists, musicians, and fashion designers from Lagos collaborate with their counterparts from different parts of Africa and the world, creating a fusion of styles and ideas. This cultural exchange is not only enriching for the creative community but also provides an opportunity for the world to appreciate the diversity and beauty of African culture.


Furthermore, the cultural scene in Lagos serves as a platform for social commentary and advocacy, addressing pressing issues and highlighting the resilience and strength of the African people. Artists and musicians often use their platforms to shed light on sociopolitical issues, push for social change, and advocate for justice and equality.


Overall, the cultural scene in Lagos is a testament to the vibrancy, creativity, and spirit of the African continent. It not only promotes African identity but also fosters cross-cultural exchange and appreciation. Through music, art, fashion, and cuisine, Lagos showcases the richness and diversity of African culture, contributing to the collective pursuit of the African Dream.



Lagos, with its rich history, entrepreneurial spirit, and vibrant cultural scene, embodies the pursuit of the African Dream. The city’s dynamic landscape and diverse opportunities have made it a beacon for individuals seeking personal and professional growth. From the bustling marketplaces to the innovative tech hubs, Lagos has fostered a culture of resilience, innovation, and creativity.


Throughout this article, we have explored various aspects that contribute to the pursuit of the African Dream in Lagos. The city’s history reflects the journey of Africa, from colonization to independence, and urbanization. Lagosians draw inspiration from this history, embracing the challenges and opportunities it presents.


Entrepreneurship, fueled by technology and innovation, has played a pivotal role in driving economic growth, job creation, and social progress in Lagos. From small-scale farmers to tech startups, entrepreneurs in Lagos exemplify the spirit of the African Dream by actively shaping their own path and making a positive impact on society.


The real estate market, fueled by population growth and urbanization, offers diverse opportunities for individuals and investors alike. The cultural scene in Lagos celebrates African identity, showcasing the immense creativity, talent, and cultural heritage of the African continent.


While Lagos faces challenges such as infrastructure gaps, inequality, and regulatory barriers, the city remains a testament to the indomitable spirit and resilience of its people. Through collaboration, innovation, and an unwavering determination to overcome barriers, Lagosians are shaping the future of the city and contributing to the vision of the African Dream.


In conclusion, Lagos embodies the essence of the African Dream – a collective vision of prosperity, empowerment, and positive change. From the pursuit of personal dreams to the pursuit of societal progress, Lagos serves as a vibrant tapestry where individuals can thrive, businesses can succeed, and African identity can flourish.


As the city continues to evolve and embrace new opportunities, Lagos will undoubtedly play a critical role in shaping the future of Africa. By celebrating the city’s history, fostering entrepreneurship, embracing technology, and promoting cultural expression, Lagos is not only creating its own success story but also inspiring a continent.


Join us in celebrating the dynamic and inspiring city of Lagos as it embodies the pursuit of the African Dream. Together, we can embrace the opportunities, tackle the challenges, and create a future that upholds the core values of inclusivity, innovation, and progress for all.