Nneka Ebru Is Building Bridge Across Cultures
Nneka Ebru (Nee Nwokoro) is of mixed parentage — half Nigerian and half Turkish. The former Turkey international basketballer attended Covenant University, Ota, where she read Industrial Relations and Human Resource Management. She was at the Paris School of Business, France, for her doctoral degree in Business Administration.
Growing up in a bi-cultural setting, Ebru cashed in on opportunity provided by her dual heritage. “Our house was like a hub of cultural diversity. With that, I began to adjust to culture easily,” she says.
She not only developed affinity for culture, particularly, how it affects emerging countries in relation to globalisation, but was determined build bridges across cultural divides.
Losing her mother, in 2007, to breast cancer, rekindled Ebru’s passion. Though, it was very difficult to get over the feeling, she realised that she needed to stand for her siblings, as well as immortalise the memory of her mother.
She says, “my family is more important than education or anything for me, we can’t do anything without family. My family motivates me a lot about what I am doing, when I am not there, my family does everything to be there for me.”
From her experience at home, she wrote a book, which is set for launch in December. She argues, “emerging nations have more traditional backgrounds that affect their thinking and their business relations on daily bases. This background also affects people’s personality, observation, negotiation, their responses to issues, which may even include, being timely, and their method of payment are all actually related to their past.”
The 26-year-old lady discovered that to link Turkey and Nigeria, culturally, education was essential. Thus, she went full blast into academics, raising the bar with a doctorate degree at 24. “I realised that education was key, if I wanted to become a consultant,” she says.
As part of efforts to help youngsters discover their full potential and avoid misplaced priority, Ebru launched a platform in 2011. According to her, youths should ensure that they don’t give space in their education process, if it is economically possible.
“Always do something that can add to your value. As much as you admire people, you must know that it is in your hands to follow it. It is really important to share with people what you know and do since experience is the best teacher,” she says.
With determination and considering the successes recorded with the youth initiative, she launched Intrasolutions Consultancy, in May 2012, to help drive investment into the country, by providing support and assistance to interested companies, as well as showcasing investment opportunities in Nigeria, through series of trade fairs and exhibition.
Her company also prepares feasibility reports, market research, corporate negotiations and corporate investigations as well as arranges trips for sector focus groups aiming at creating a homely environment for startup companies in Nigeria, particularly Turkish firms.
Ebru says: “If I want to do consultancy, I can’t just be Nneka Ebru and just do it, I have to be something more than that. So, I have to be the best I can be to really direct and advice people.”
She believes that Turkey and Nigeria have similar culture. “But I obviously realised that it is more than that. The more educated a country is, the more nontraditional it becomes.”
Turkey and Nigeria are following each other in this development process and it is becoming more interesting and fascinating to find out more different things between these countries, she discloses.
For her, “Nigerians look very relaxed. Some people may say we are nonchalant, but I think Nigerians observe more than anybody else. We want the best quality; we want full attention, but at the same time, we don’t want to look like we are so interested in things that make us unique, on the other hand, it is a big dilemma for people who have not understood us.”
She believes that Nigeria and Turkey can partner in the area of developing the decaying steel industry in Nigeria, agriculture, cultural agreement as well as immigration. She adds: “They are more interested in Nigeria is agriculture, construction, health and education.”
Her challenge is about the attitude of Nigerians towards consultants. “The service sector wants fast solutions from their client. They don’t want advice they only want solution. People still don’t know the differences between consultancy and contraction. My biggest challenge has been that the expectation from my client is different from the job of a consultant. Consultants only create the paths for you; they must not necessarily work in that path for you.”
At the top of her aspiration is to see both Nigeria and Turkey become members of the G-8 economies, “I am only ready to die when on the long run, I stand before the whole world to see people watch me, particularly my family talk about how culture is important to Nigeria and Turkey, and how it has help in business relations helping Nigeria and Turkey become a member of the G 8 and not G20 anymore.”
Selected as the only young entrepreneur from Nigeria to attend G 20 summit later in the year to represent entrepreneurs, the Abia indigene believes that the event would be very important for Nigerians, since local and international competitions are now confronting start-ups in Nigeria.
“Nigerians are very motivated and passionate about their business and their idea. It is important to share with the outside world to show that Nigeria is a big market and that there are a lot of thing to be done, which must not necessarily come from the government,” she says. “Comparable to every emerging nation, entrepreneurs play very big role in the growth of the economy. Now in Nigeria, there is a boom in entrepreneurship so we must show that there are a lot of startup companies that are ready to expand and showcase the opportunities here.”
Ebru maintains, “one of the top issues that will be discussed in G-20 is corruption. It is important that we have solutions that can be adopted from individual level. Charity starts at home, as entrepreneurs; we have to find solution for corruption. And I also believe that we will have more idea for innovative solutions and strategies. Once governments establish policies that encourage people to come with innovative ideas you will see that entrepreneurs will be on the rise.”