The online reputation space is harsh for today’s Nigerian, and it’s no fault of his. Unfortunately, Things would get tougher as time goes on, and only the fittest would survive.
While this looks like a grim picture (Honestly, it’s exaggerated a bit), it does hold some level of truths.
There are new and existing policies that make it more stringent to work as a Nigerian in the online space, and this piece takes a look at how these policies came to be,
why they seem geared specifically towards Nigerians and how we can live with it (if we can’t change it).
How it all began – online reputation damage
In the past decade, technology witnessed a blazing rate of development, and it was felt all around the world; even in Nigeria.
Speaking about Nigeria (which is the focus of this article), we quickly left the era of paying substantial money to “buy time” in internet cafés to having the internet in the comfort of our palms.
However, that comfort and convenience brought with it some vices, and at that time, it was expected.
It was at a “permissible” level, think of it as the “small-time” vices we used to have just around the street corner: nothing particularly harmful or worrisome.
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But alas! It developed into some kind of organized crime and wreaked havoc in many ways than we all could imagine.
Things like Advanced Fee Fraud (which is now known as “419”) came to being, and grew so big and became so bad that everyone became wary – of being scammed.
The internet was (and it still is) a very versatile tool, and at the same time, be a devastating tool;
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Online Fraud took the leverage of the internet and expanded beyond Nigerian borders and spread overseas.
It became a bit of a global issue, and then the sanctions began to roll in.
At first, they were more of corrective measures and were geared at forestalling the spread of the vicious trend, then they became preventive sanctions, to help prevent the occurrence of the vice.
It worked, but the damage was already done; the reputation of the average Nigerian became tainted.
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All of these may be largely unknown to a new entrant into online businesses, or they may believe they should be largely unconcerned about it since they have nothing to do with it.
But the cold, hard truth is that there’s no escaping the collective reputation we all share online,
based on our nationality, and even if we try to shy away from that, there are obvious signs out there that we can see, and that would make us believe the reality.
For now, we focus on explaining just how bad things are online and try to make a new entrant understand it.
How Bad Things Are (Online)
We start with the good news. Online trade that are within the country has been largely stable, and there are no serious threats to the survival of anyone who’s in it.
Basically, all you need do is to advertise yourself and earn the people’s trust; your online business would thrive on that for a long time.
For example, If you drop ship locally, you have a better chance of establishing yourself with the people.
The bad news starts once you come close to anything that’s remotely international. There, it won’t take long before one begins to see how things are.
It starts with the registration processes. There are some online systems — which would have otherwise helped your online business — which you can’t get into simply because of the nationality.
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Platforms like craigslist.com (a popular one) doesn’t support Nigerian entities, and while they might give other reasons for that,
it’s not hard to realise it’s down to the reputation (they do support other African countries, by the way).
It is widely believed that “Nigerians are scammers” (which is so not true)
Then there are payment regulations too.
Every single major international payment platform are making changes to their policies, to make it more stringent;
and – would you believe? – Nigeria has been part of the reasons why. Western Union, for instance, now have tighter rules on using its services to send and receive funds;
some businesses are outrightly not supported at all! PayPal would only allow Nigerian users to add debit or credit cards, and that’s all;
they won’t allow receipts of funds (it’s only just recently that they loosened a bit), or multiple accounts. All of these restrictions are non-existent for everyone else.
For Nigerian Online Reputation business to thrive internationally, more work has to be done and there’s the constant uncertainty of platform support.
What can be done
At this point, it is hoped that the reader has understood (or at least, have an idea of) the full extent of the reality of things in the online space.
Things are not especially easy being a Nigerian online, and as a Nigerian, there is the underlining “bad” reputation that is bestowed upon one, whether he’s aware of it or not.
Since one would be starting on a not so positive outlook when getting into an (international) online business,
the only logical step to take is to improve on the reputation, and then find workarounds to whatever restrictions there might be.
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First of all, find alternative platforms that support Nigerian businesses.
Payoneer is a good alternative to PayPal and they give Nigerians full support; you can send and receive international funds (as everyone else can) that way.
Next, you find alternatives to the other platforms you need; that might be a bit tricky as the alternative might not have as much coverage (again, Craigslist.com being a case in point),
but hopefully, if you explore wide, you can come up with something that’s worth the effort.
Lastly, you go the extra mile to prove you’re worth patronising; granted, it is unfair that, as a Nigerian,
you’ve got to put in extra effort for the same things others are getting relatively easier, but,
if anything, it brings out the virtue in you (you know, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” they say).
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While the reality is just what it is, it’s not necessary to be limited by it.
However, what is more important is to acknowledge that reality and try to see how it can be improved.
One can’t help it if there is a shared reputation he has to carry, and when that reputation is already tainted from the get-go, it’s good if he tries not to live it out.
Everyone is wary of getting into business with a Nigerian, and for someone who’s just getting into online business,
it is important to try to correct that notion in every way they can.