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The Igbo Apprenticeship System and How It Inspires Todays Millennials/GenZ

(A five minute read)

Some things need to be taught in every school and this is one of them.
The Igbo Apprenticeship system is also known as 'Imu Ahia' (to learn the market') or 'Umunne Economics' (Brotherly Economics).

What Is It?
Apprenticeship is an informal system where young people learn skills and how business works from other more experienced people for a period of time, usually about 7 years. At the end they are given money to set up their business with the acquired skills.
This system exists in other cultures across Africa but the Igbo people of South East Nigeria have taken it to another level by consistently reproducing this model and passing it down across generations.

How Did It Start?
After the brutal civil war which lasted for 30 months, lots of Igbo people lost their business as well as their capital. People with money in the bank were left with just £20 to rebuild their lives, regardless of the amount they had before hand. 

Why Do I Need To Know About It?
Lots of Igbo millionaires have been produced from this system. It is one of the major social and economic factors that helped the Igbos overcome or bounce back after the war. It is said that Nnewi in Anambra state has more millionaires per square kilometre than any other part of Africa (note, I said Africa!)

How Does Society Benefit From This?
It is a proven means of reducing poverty and transferring skills by creating jobs. The non reliance of this model on oil wealth is commendable as well as the fact that the businesses do not just stop at trading but have evolved into manufacturing cars and machines. People who have gone through the model find they have  a mentor for life as well as a guarantor should they ever need to expend their business.

The domino effect of each person helping out due to the fact that it needs to be passed on is the key to building the chain of wealth.

The spirit of entrepreneurship has taught us we don't need to beg. We just need to put in the work and we can empower each other. 
There's a misconception that this model is for dropouts and illiterates but this is far from the truth. It has even been described as the best business framework in the world .

What Values Can Igbos Learn From This ?
The attributes of a successful entrepreneur are also attributes common to the Igbo community. Key values that underpin this system include values of Loyalty, Trust and Community.

In conclusion, know that to be Igbo is to be Creative, Innovative, Resilient, Dedicated , A Critical Thinker and a Survivor. 

Igbo nwere mmadu!
(A phrase that means Igbos have talented people or Igbos have talent)


Igbotees brand is black owned in the Uk and makes Igbo culture influenced T-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies and polos. It was created to promote visibility of Igbo language and culture. It started with trying to improve our fluency in Igbo language which lead to the creation of the Igbolearners language learning platform. The discovery that we couldn't find Igbo T-shirts to use for giveaway lead us to create our own hence Igbotees was created.

Pictured are #IGBO Tees and #IGBO hats. 

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