Self-employment is a situation whereby a person decides to venture into a certain business rather than be employed by someone or organization.

The person will organize and supervise the enterprise, and he will earn his income from it. He will be his own employer.

Self-employment can be initiated by an individual or a group of people who believe the same things and see things the same way, where their business is concerned. Anyone wishing to be self-employed should be disciplined, prudent, friendly, hardworking, intelligent, organized and willing to learn.

Some factors that determine the choice of business

Since self-employment is a personal initiative or choice, one is likely to be interested in some particularly areas rather than numerous others. People’s choice are usually based on the following factors:

  • Educational qualification
  • Professional background
  • The need for the goods or services
  • Interest
  • Available resources

Some ideas for self-employment

  • Crop farming: e.g, fruits, vegetables, kolanut, rubber, plam trees
  • Animal husbandry
  • Small-scale industries: e.g. food processing, animal feed processing food storage and preservation, wood processing, flour mills, flour packaging, etc.
  • Other service: e.g. machine hire services, training, veterinary services, provision of professional advice, etc.

Small-scale manufacturing

  • Building materials
  • Wood work ]
  • Textiles
  • Food and beverages


  • Operating private schools
  • Legal services
  • Counselling services
  • Health services
  • Transport service
  • Laundry services
  • Security services
  • Fashion services
  • Maintenance and repairs of equipment


  • Consumable goods
  • Food
  • Textils
  • Garments
  • Machines

In as much as it is good to earn an income from one’s labour, all forms of self-employment should improve people’s lives and develop the society.

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The need for self-employment

Formerly, government was the major employer of labour in Nigeria. With the coming of industrialization, many industrial firms employed people to perform different tasks in the process of production. But the population of young school leavers from primary to post-primary and tertiary levels is growing at such a rate that possible employment by the government and large private companies is becoming more difficult.

Apart from the educate population of various categories, the non-educated people who need employment are very many.

Many large private companies are shutting down and others are re-organising in such a way that the need for labour is drastically reduced. So they have sacked workers. Some of the reasons for this are the use of new technology such as computers and modern machines; economic hardship and population growth.

Owing to these reasons and some others, the population of the able bodies people who have to earn a living has increased. The alternative is for people to employ themselves in areas where they can excel. Self-employment will solve and prevent the following problems among others:


  • Idleness
  • Crime
  • Under-utilization of human and natural resources, under-utilization is a situation in which people and machines are doing less than they should do. Example: when a properly trained nurse/midwife becomes a ward maid and when a machine which should produce one hundred goods a day produces twenty because the materials are not available.
  • Poverty
  • Overdependence on government

Sources of funding for self-employment

There are so many sources of funding self-employment initiatives. Here are some of such sources:

  • Personal savings;
  • Government initiative; and
  • Private or non-governmental efforts
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Personal savings: many self-employed people who were formerly employed by an organization or other individuals save part of their monthly salaries until they are able to start off on their own.

Government initiative: government encourages self-employment in various way such as providing money and materials for those who wish to be self-employed and those who are already self-employed. Government also trains people and helps them to acquire skills in areas such as dressmaking, computer operation, hair dressing, catering and soap making.

Private initiatives: some banks assist self-employed people by giving them loans and charging very little interests on such loans.

Again, some non-governmental organizations train people to acquire some skills. Sometimes at the end of the training, such organizations provide the people with money and materials to start off their own businesses.

Skill acquisition centres

Various government agencies, private organizations and non-governmental organizations have set up skill acquisition centres to prepare or assist the self-employed in their different areas of interest. Some of such centres and programmes have name like:

  • Vocational training centre
  • Youth empowerment centre
  • National directorate of employment (NDE)
  • National poverty alleviation programme (NAPEP)
  • Women development centre
  • Governors, army, police, navy, etc. Officers wives associations (and their various programmes)
  • Individuals and private workshops for training.