People & Money

Making it: Sim Shagaya Rates Hustling Over Ivy-League Degree

William F. Buckley, an American public intellectual and conservative author, once said he would rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston phone directory than the faculty of Harvard University! Without prejudice to the world-class institution that has consistently produced great leaders and businesspeople, it is legitimate to ask whether American inventiveness and economic prowess has been produced by Harvard and Yale eggheads or risk-taking entrepreneurs and daredevils. And a lot of Americans do ask this question.

Sim Shagaya, founder of Konga, recently launched a Nigerian variant of the question on Twitter: what is more important to succeed as an entrepreneur in Nigeria? A degree from Harvard or Yale or hard graft aka hustle? Shagaya agrees that attending an Ivy-league institution, especially an elite MBA programme equips one with invaluable business connections for life. But he is certain that good old hustle is more valuable to an entrepreneur than an Ivy-league degree especially because only a tiny minority of alumni from these global-elite institutions call the shots in Nigerian public service or in Nigerian business. You hardly find any Harvard or Cambridge graduate in the ranks of the founders or managers of Nigeria’s telcos, pharmacy chains and manufacturing conglomerates.

Shagaya remembers his dad telling him after he acquired his Harvard MBA that it’s just a “nice pair of running shoes,” a highly motivated barefoot man would race ahead of him if he relied too much on the Harvard degree.

Some of the contributions to the thread:

See the thread here.

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