Not a criminal – only Nigerian

Peter posted this on October 5, 2020

For the past few years I’ve been focusing (for personal reasons) on building my business to serve clients from all around the world.

While the process has been really interesting, it has exposed me to a lot of unnecessary challenges I’ve had to face just because I hold a Nigerian passport.

A big part of any for profit business working is being able to accept payments for services rendered. Getting profiled to accept payments within the country is usually a breeze as there are so many banks and startups facilitating this but the issue comes when you want to receive payments from outside the country.

I’m too used to filling forms were the country list in the sign up form skips from “Niger” to “Norway” with total exclusion of Nigeria.

I’ve had to incorporate out of the country in order to have payments move flawlessly but more than once, I’ve been in banks especially in Europe to open accounts and the discussion tends to taper off “politely” once I bring out my green passport.

While I fully understand there is a lot of fraud globally attributed to Nigerians, fraud is a global thing and there are a few (actually a lot) of Nigerians who are brilliant, talented and ready to leave a mark in the world if given the opportunity.

Denying every single Nigerian access to financial services because of the fraudulent activities of a few is unfair and a violation of rights.

Another issue I’ve had is accessing my foreign accounts whenever I’m in Nigeria. I love travelling a lot and I’ve noticed a lot of times, I travel through different countries and use my cards freely but once I land in Nigeria, accounts are flagged, cards are blocked and I’ve to spend hours convincing customer-care that I’m not trying to defraud myself.

This aside, I’ve met a lot of poorly hidden (most times) apprehension in a lot of foreign (mostly Western) countries when I mention where I’m from (the Asian/Eastern countries usually ask what football team I play for 😀 ).

This is apart from the extra scrutiny Nigerians tend to get at the Airports and border entry points, I was going into Istanbul with my ex some years ago, she holds a foreign passport it was just looked at and stamped, I was next and had my passport passed from one person to the other for almost 10 minutes till I protested that the person I came in with didn’t spend up to a minute and was waiting before I was cleared  – it has happened a lot but mentioning this because there is a comparison.

I’ve been picked out for “random” drug checks at different airports around the world and it makes travelling rather irritating and uncomfortable. I think the most annoying was when I last passed through Frankfurt, everything was searched and swabbed and checked in only for me to get back home and unpack and see that bags of specialty ground coffee (I love coffee a lot) I travelled with had been torn open and taped over (apparently for drug tests) meaning my luggage had been opened and closed back without my consent and when I wasn’t present. What if something had been put in? I’m still on that case.

Building an international business is challenging.

Doing it as a Nigerian adds a few levels to the hard but thankfully, I’ve grown extremely thick-skinned making it take a lot to faze me so I just observe, object when necessary and generally deal only with those who value the quality work we generate & results over empty stereotypes

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