Pitching for bribery? I'm out.

20 November 2009
As the newbie on the SM team, I'm still discovering the ins and outs of procurement, and there is evidently a lot to learn. One of the first things that became clear, however, was that bribery is, sadly, commonplace in Africa. I realised just how rife the problem is when I sat down last week to watch Dragons' Den Around the World on TV. The programme does what it says on the tin, giving a glimpse into how the programme works in its various international guises.   In one episode of the Nigerian version of the series, a young entrepreneur braved the den with his impressive idea for his refuse collection and disposal company. He wanted a 6 million naira (£23,885) investment in return for 50 per cent of his business. Great so far. But on closer inspection the Dragons unveiled a "fatal flaw" in his vision - he had programmed a 50,000 naira (£200) monthly bribery payment into his business plan. Needless to say, the response was a resounding "I'm out". But it made me think - either this guy had some serious brass neck or the problem is so much more widespread in Africa than I had ever imagined. Either way, the issue will continue to sully the reputation of good African business practice if people do not stand up to the system.
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