Deji Akinyanju, founder of Nigerian fast-food chain Chicken Republic, and Ayo Oduntan, founder of an integrated Nigerian poultry operation (Amo Byng Group), are among a growing cadre of skilled food-industry entrepreneurs for whom the opportunities to serve the Nigerian market-a population of over 170 million, including a large and growing middle class-outweigh the challenges of operating there. And indeed, as embodied by Nigeria's status as a net food importer despite having 80 million hectares of arable land, the challenges are considerable. Animal feed is excessively expensive, driving up poultry production costs and limiting production volumes; illegal poultry imports pose food safety threats while undercutting prices of domestic product; corruption is rampant; debt is exorbitantly expensive; commercial real estate is sparse; and electricity is unreliable. Yet, Nigeria has all the natural blessings to be an agricultural powerhouse competitive on an international scale. And it has the large, ambitious population needed to drive its development, both as workers and consumers. Akinyanju and Oduntan believe many of the issues constraining Nigeria's poultry sector can be alleviated with relatively simple solutions-and that doing so can open tremendous growth opportunities for their businesses and the country as a whole. Set in October 2015, this case provides a detailed look at Nigeria's poultry value chain and the complexities of modernizing a traditional and largely informal industry. It also presents an inspiring story of determined entrepreneurs succeeding against tough odds. Finally, for students whose conception of Nigeria is all too often reduced to simplistic headlines, this case offers a more nuanced look into the complexities, potential, and aspirations of what may be one of this century's most dynamic and important economies.
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- 2015 HBS
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