Dragons' Den is a creatively conceptualized TV programme that picks its root from Japan. The concept has become widely known in some parts of the world. Perhaps the most talked about of its versions, is the UK's “Dragons' Den”, which has been successfully adapted, made better and more popular with the crisp and almost impeccable approach of a 5-man panel of self-made, tested, experienced and highly successful entrepreneurs. Duncan Bannatyne, James Caan, Peter Jones, Deborah Meaden, and Theo Paphitis, are called The Dragons. These individuals do come across as business personalities that are willing to invest their hard earned money to have a certain percent equity in any viable and potentially rewarding business proposition brought to them by members of the public who are known as “Entrepreneurs” on the show. The Entrepreneurs have business ideas but lack the financial muscle to bankroll them; hence the Entrepreneurs are compelled to book a space to enter into the “Den” one after the other. The Dragons in the Den are comfortably seated with heaps of cash on their tables for use as equity investment in those business ideas that impress them. In many series, some Entrepreneurs have left the Dragons' Den with wide smiles on their faces as indication of a desirable business agreement between them and the Dragons, while some have left with brutally bruised egos and expectations, on other instances. Even in some instances these experienced business personalities - The Dragons, have been proven wrong in their lack of knowledge in discerning potentially profitable business ideas presented to them by the Entrepreneurs. This has led to the rejection of a number of ideas that later turned out to be instant successes through the support of business-savvy viewers and private investors who constitute the programme’s viewership. Now, Dragons' Den is running in Nigeria with the huge support of the United Bank for Africa (UBA) and a handful of partnering corporate organizations. Viewers in the UK watch the show on Africa Independent Television (AIT) International on SKY 187 every Sunday at 9.30pm. In what seems at variance with the UK's version, the Nigerian version of Dragons' Den has a convoluted panel of 6 people made up of so-called self-made business personalities. Maybe apart from Alex Amosu, John Momoh and Chris Parkes (the only white guy on the panel), in reality, half of these panel members are largely people who inherited wealth from rich parents and who also had it easy convincing one laid-back moneybag Otunba, Alhaji, Chief etc., to represent such in their business interests. Precisely, members of the panel are John Momoh (a renowned TV personality and the CEO of Channels TV), Alexander Amosu (A British born-Nigerian successful entrepreneur), Chris Parkes (A successful British business man in Nigeria), Tokunboh Ishmael ("17 years experience spanning investment banking, private equity investing, etc.," according to her profile on the show), Ibukun Awosika (''a daring entrepreneur who ventured into the furniture business.... establishing The Chair Center Ltd '') and Femi Tejuoso (''is a prince whose last name inspires awe and respect for the business savvy associated with his lineage'', according to his profile on the show). Though Nigerians are sometimes good at replicating ideas, most especially those that can be well adapted and implemented in line with the realities of our environment for the actual betterment of our nation, the same way we see meaningful ideologically based exchanges between Americans and Britons in the areas of entertainment, social development, and politics. But we seem to be getting it awfully wrong in a lot of ways with our latest craze for foreign reality shows that now litter our TV channels. Apart from the fact that we lack most of the technical know-how to run many of these shows, more often than not the people who sit at the helm of these TV projects often exhibit an embarrassing and indeed appalling lack of intelligence that is capable of making-up for the technical inadequacies. To say that there has been a lot of embarrassing delivery in manners of approach on the part of some of the panelists on Nigeria's “Dragons' Den” in relation to the Entrepreneurs is to say the least. But the latest onslaught which would further stultify Nigeria's nascent entrepreneurial drive, came on the show this last Sunday, 5th October, 2008, by Femi Tejuosho (one of the ‘Dragons’) on one of the Entrepenuers named Olufemi. Olufemi confidently walked into the ‘Den’ with his female partner to seek a 4.6 million Naira investment from the Dragons in exchange for 30% ownership in OLUFEMI Clothing. Any discerning viewer would have been held in amazement with the collection of casual and corporate unisex clothing creatively designed and sewn by Olufemi with the assistance of just two tailors working for him, presented to the Dragons, as some of the products made by OLUFEMI Clothing. In the interaction between the Dragons and Olufemi, a sudden question popped-up about the cloth, which Olufemi wore to the show - a well-tailored ensemble, a shirt and a pair of perfectly trimmed trousers. A bombshell came when Olufemi said he made everything himself. There was a brief silence on the side of the panel, after which a voice suddenly echoed from among the Dragons. It was Femi Tejuosho’s voice of admonishment that Olufemi should create a unique Afrocentric style and also that he should create an identity for himself, rather than OLUFEMI Clothing trying to replicate ZARA in Nigeria. I was very bitter to hear such a comment from an individual like Femi Tejuosho whose only identity of success is the fact that he was born into the Tejuosho family and as such, inherited the popular Tejuosho Market, oh sorry! Tejuosho family business. An overt Eurocentrist, sitting as a Dragon on a foreign TV programme courtesy of UBA funds, hypocritically advocating afro-centrism, when he and his colleagues on Dragons' Den are always sporting foreign designer brands! He mentioned ZARA as if ZARA products are originally made from the UK or Spain (Where ZARA was founded). A good look at every label of ZARA reveals that most of its products are made in poor neighborhoods in India and China, with the ceaseless efforts of hapless creative minds like Olufemi working in sweatshops for big names like ZARA. Their sweat is later sold to petty bourgeoisie like Femi Tejuosho in different designs! I doubt if true entrepreneurship can thrive in Nigeria with the likes of Femi Tejuosho having a free ride to pontificate on entrepreneurial affairs when he lacks a credible track record as an exemplary entrepreneur. This is the type of people killing the entrepreneurial spirit embedded in our young people. May God save Nigeria from the hands of opportunists like Femi Tejuosho. And may UBA strive to put its money on the right spot, the right TV show and genuine entrepreneurs.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters