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  According to a recent survey, Nigeria emerged as the highest number of immigrants in the United Kingdom and the second-highest recipient of the UK Work Visa between December 2019 and June 2022. This is a classical case of brain drain. In a lame man’s language: Japa has hit Nigeria. 
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There have been countless reports of people on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter who narrate how they were with a friend the day before, only to wake up the next day to hear that their friends have relocated to the UK, US or Canada. What’s more surprising is the recurring complaints from tech startups and other companies about the massive brain drain of their best staff. Often, these employees leave without telling their employers, leaving them in shock and angst.  The impact of this Japa has been felt in all sectors – tech, health, banking, consulting, education and so on. For instance, if you notice that your bank app is frequently experiencing a glitch, it is the impact of Japa. How? The tech guys are not left in the wave of Japa. Many tech companies in the US are anticipating the supply of talent from emerging economies like Nigeria, and Nigerian tech bros and sis are not sleeping on this opportunity. Multinational corporations like Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon and Apple are extending job opportunities to promising talents from Nigeria and relocating them to the global West. Hence, software engineers are becoming increasingly scarce by the day. Apart from going to the US, EU and Canada to work, many talents leave Nigeria for graduate studies. With the presence of never-ending strike actions by academic and professional unions, young Nigerians have their gaze abroad, causing the Japa wave to quadruple.
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 As usual, the causes of this Japa wave are associated with a growing economic recession, skyrocketing inflation, the ruling class’s corruption and inability to cushion the effect of the recession, frequent industrial actions and the recent insecurity plaguing the country. These issues have caused young Nigerians more reasons to worry.  The question is, how can Nigerian startups tackle this “Great Resignation” sponsored by Japa? In this article, I share a few insights that will help.
  • Have A Succession Plan

Startups must be proactive in the time and age of the Japa wave. This is certainly not a time to be caught unawares. By being proactive, founders and startup owners must always be ready for the eventuality. And the only way to be proactive is by designing a succession plan where there’s a robust pipeline that consistently trains talents. By establishing a pipeline of trained talents, your startup can be agile enough to withstand the Japa wave.
  • Give Talents Bigger Reasons To Stay

If fat salaries are all you can offer your talents, then be prepared to receive the shock of your life when your most talented workers leave you behind for a higher-paying job abroad.
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Therefore, founders must look beyond paying fatter salaries and other incentives to retain talent. This is the time to tell compelling stories to make your workforce mission-driven.
  • Offer Stock Options

Another way to cushion the effect of Japa in your startup is to offer stock options and be open to much more adaptable working conditions. When talents know what they are building is impactful and will ultimately grow big, they’ll be inclined to take a stake in the company’s ownership.
  • Create Flexible Working Arrangements 

In this wave of Japa, startups must create flexible working arrangements to cushion the effects of the already available stress in Nigeria. For instance, introducing a hybrid work mode (a combination of remote and office working) is very advisable now. Many Gen Zs and Millennials, who make up the bulk of the talented workforce, dislike all forms of stress, such as traffic congestion which affects productivity. Therefore, startups should rethink flexible working attainment.  Featured Image Source: Benjamin Dada
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This article was first published on 19th October 2022


Nnaemeka is an academic scholar with a degree in History and International Studies from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He is also a creative writer, content creator, storyteller, and social analyst.

Comments (1)

One thought on “How Nigerian Startups Can Handle The New Japa Wave”

  • Thanks for sharing this information. I really like your blog post very much. You have really shared a informative and interesting blog post with people..
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