By Unini Chioma (from

Professor Ogechi Adeola, a distinguished scholar and the Head of the Department of Marketing, Operations, and Information Systems at the Lagos Business School (LBS), Pan-Atlantic University, Lagos State, has shed light on why the Igbo apprenticeship system stands as the world’s largest business incubator.

Addressing an audience at the 15th Inaugural Lecture of the institution, titled “Decolonising Africa’s Business Practices: Pro-Indigenous Marketing Pathways To A Paradigm Shift,” Professor Adeola provided valuable insights into the Igbo apprenticeship model, which has groomed generations of successful entrepreneurs within the Igbo community.

She emphasized that Igbo apprentices are nurtured from a young age to become exceptional businesspersons, and her research, encompassing books such as ‘Indigenous African Enterprise’ and ‘Igba boi,’ has delved into the intricacies of this system.

The Igbo apprenticeship system, commonly referred to as ‘Igba-Odibo/Igba-Boi/Imu-Ahia/Imu-Oru,’ comprises formal and informal agreements between parties, fostering thriving entrepreneurial communities among the Igbo people.

Professor Adeola delineated three primary types within this system: Igba-boi (become an apprentice), Imu Oru (learn a craft), and Imu Ahia (learn a trade). While all three aim to transfer knowledge and entrepreneurial skills, they differ in their approach.

In the Igba-boi/Igba Odibo type, mentees are tutored free of charge for a predetermined period. In contrast, in the Imu Oru/Imu Oruaka and Imu Ahia categories, the mentee or their parents/sponsors pay for the apprenticeship.

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