Nike Anani - Building a Generational Bridge in African Family Firms


1 March 2021

1 hr 1 min 54 secs

Season 1

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Special Guest

About this Episode

Nike is the founder and CEO of Nike Anani Practice, Ltd., in Lagos, Nigeria, where she helps second-generation family business members collaborate with the founding generation in an effort to build sustainable family enterprises in the region. No more than 2% of African family businesses successfully transition power to the second generation, and Nike has made it her mission to facilitate this generational merge.

With over a decade of experience working with select business families in Africa, Nike Anani helps owners lead their family organizations to long-term impact and legacy.

Her clients choose to engage her, not only because of her extensive professional training, but also because of her practical experience as both a business founder and a NextGen. This allows her to uniquely empathise with both generations and act as a connector to the Founding generation.

Standout Quotes:

  • "And that's an observation I have of founders and entrepreneurs, they're just amazing people that have an eye for opportunity" - [Nike]
  • "As most founders do, it was about giving me the best opportunity to set me up for success and often in their minds, success is going as far away from the business to get the best they can come back" - [Nike]
  • "In Nigeria, 90% of indigenous businesses are family businesses, but only 2% survive beyond the founder" - [Nike]
  • "Family businesses are so key to the community, if they keep failing after a generation, then what's that doing to the economy?" - [Nike]
  • "I think that starting from a relatively small base, the best way to build anything is with community, and actually building what that community wants rather than just dictating something that you found off the shelf from another culture" - [Mike]
  • "If you've seen one family business, you've seen one family business" - [Nike]
  • "A friend of mine says whenever you wake up is your morning, some people don't wake up until they're 85, they don't know what they want" - [Nike]
  • "I need to be in the best version of myself so I can serve people to the best of my ability" - [Nike]
  • "There's always something new to learn, we've never arrived, we're just on this ongoing journey of endless learning, in my view" - [Nike]
  • "There's no position that's guaranteed in life, whether it be a position of material success or honor, today you might be celebrated but it doesn't mean tomorrow you will be" - [Nike]
  • "It is important to ensure that people's external projections don't become your internal story, because your story is the most powerful thing that you can give yourself" - [Nike]

Key Takeaways:

  • Nike is a 2nd generation family business owner, and she narrates how her father started the family business initially as a side-hustle.
  • Describing events around her entry into the business, she shares the plan was to only stay for a few months in Nigeria, gain exposure to business in general, and move back to the UK eventually. However, she was drawn to the spirit of entrepreneurship there and felt more liberated as a young black female.
  • Nike explains that while her father had expressed general support for her in any field she was planning to go into, she had never expected she would work in the family business.
  • A glaring disparity in the decision-making process between her former place of work and the family business was the time taken which could be much shorter or longer in different scenarios, leaving her befuddled about family business as a whole. This encouraged her to get professional education at the Family Firm Institute in Boston.
  • Employing her knowledge in her family business, Nike started the process of "Governance" which involved her siblings more, intending to avert the typical dissolution that plagued most Nigerian family businesses after the founding generation.
  • Another strategy adopted involved starting the conversation by creating a community called "African Family Firms" for African families facing similar challenges to meet and navigate through these issues.
  • Nike highlights various peculiarities of African families, noting how these have to be put into consideration when trying to find solutions to the survival of family businesses in Africa.
  • You won't know what you want until you come together as a family, have open conversations, and plan for different scenarios. Get clear as a family on who you are, what your values are, the goals of the family, and the purpose of the family business.
  • Emphasizing the importance of continuous learning, Nike embraces the process as a part of being the best version of herself.
  • A significant failure that set her up for success took place in school, where the result she got at some point would not be good enough for the jobs she wanted, and this motivated her to push herself harder than ever before to achieve her desired goal.
  • Nike’s parents impressed upon her certain values described as 4Hs and 2Ps. The 4Hs are Honesty, Hard work, Humility, and Harmony while the 2Ps are People and Places. All of these were included in the family constitutional value system when the formal family enterprise was set up.
  • It is important to understand that while people can project their weaknesses onto you and vilify you, their external projections should not become your internal story because your story is the most powerful thing you can give yourself, and you have to hold on to that story.

Episode Timeline:

  • [00:50] Meet Today's guest, 'Nike Anani'.
  • [01:56] Nike's personal and professional background.
  • [08:30] How did the family make the jump from medical consumables to construction and building hospitals?
  • [16:55] How were you inspired to learn more about the Business of Family?
  • [23:00] Since the wake-up call that you received, what did you do about it for your own family or your friends' families?
  • [29:50] Do people document entitlements for kin or rather more of a bloodline lineage?
  • [32:53] Challenges surrounding Real Estate planning in Africa.
  • [39:18] An overview of Nike's different roles in family business generally.
  • [50:15] Has there been a specific failure that you've learned a great deal from?
  • [56:00] Apart from education, what else came through as fundamentally important from your parents?
  • [59:40] Nike's letter to her kids.

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