Top 10 Cities to Launch a Small Business in Nigeria

sme nigeria - top 10 cities

Starting a new business is no easy task. The location you choose to site your start up, however, can make all the difference. Some cities are known for the education institutions located within them and some for administrative establishments, while others are more conducive for founding a business. For an entrepreneur to make his business a profitable venture, the location matters a lot. For decades now, some cities have been gaining a reputation for having a conducive atmosphere for businesses, and have developed favorable climates for founding a business. These cities have seen a steady influx of local and foreign investors in recent times. Does your city rank among the top 10? Read through to find out.

lagos - top 10 cities 1. LAGOS
Nigeria’s centre of excellence and commercial hub claims the number one spot on our list of top 10 cities to launch your business. Lagos has a population of about 20 million inhabitants, and as such offers a vast market for any business an entrepreneur has in mind. Besides the population of Lagos, it possesses more developed business infrastructures when compared to other parts of Nigeria. Lagos is Nigeria’s premier commercial center and ICT hub.  People come from any and all parts of the country to start up businesses in Lagos. Virtually any type of business ideas can be established in Lagos and is sure to make a profit.

onitsha - nigerian SME city

The second in our list of top 10 cities to launch your business is Onitsha. Onitsha is located on the eastern bank of the river across the Niger Bridge in Anambra State and is known nationwide as a commercial hot spot. Most people from other cities come to Onitsha to do all manner of businesses because of its compelling reputation as a lucrative business area. Businesses like sales of building materials, electronics and car parts are mostly seen here making Onitsha one of our top cities to launch your business.


aba - nigerian SME city3. ABA
Aba ranks fourth on our list of top 10 cities to launch your business. Aba, situated in Abia State is notoriously known for leather and shoe production business. Nevertheless, almost all types of business flourish in Aba, ranging from real estate and sales of building materials, to clothes vending and making (brand new clothing and Okirika) and transportation business. All varieties of business are remarkably buoyant and very sustainable in Aba and its markets attract entrepreneurs from beyond the borders of Nigeria.

ibadan - top 10 cities
Fourth on our list of top 10 SME destinations in Nigeria, Ibadan is popularly known across Nigeria as being a manufacturing centre. Ibadan is located in south-western Nigeria. Several industries have the majority of their manufacturing companies in Ibadan. The city is also known for its trading activities and agricultural produce.

kano - nigerian SME city5. KANO
One of the two northern Nigerian states on the list of top 10 cities to launch a business, Kano is popular for its production and sales of leather goods and general commerce. Kano is one of the cities in the Northern part of Nigeria that has a good mix of both Christians and Muslims. The languages that are generally spoken are Hausa, English and Pidgin English. The cost of living in Kano is not as high as it is in some of the cities on our list of top 10 cities an entrepreneur can launch his SME.

enugu - nigerian SME city6. ENUGU
Number six of the top 10 cities to launch your business is Enugu. This is one of the cities that is relatively peaceful and quiet to reside in. It is located in a mainland state in the south eastern part of Nigeria. It’s not as busy and crowded as other cities but businesses still flourish. Enugu is recognized nationwide as the coal mining city and also an educational destination, being home to number of popular tertiary institutions. Also home to ZeeSaa online market, the best place to buy, sell, market and connect. Businesses that can be profitable here include all manner of retail trading, restaurant businesses and boutiques. All these qualities earned the city it’s position in our top 10 list of business destinations.

port harcourt - top 10 cities
Number seven on our top 10 list of cities to launch your business is Port Harcourt. It is located in the south southern part of Nigeria. The city is known as the hot spot of the petroleum industry in Nigeria, with a wide reserve of crude oil and natural gas, and numerous industrial estates. It is also the commercial hub for the far-south, and has a large and diverse population, with a sizable expatriate community. Businesses that can be profitable in this city are pharmacies, clinics and other health-sector based etnerprises, hotels and supermarkets amongst others.

calabar - nigerian SME citycalabar - nigerian SME citycalabar - nigerian SME city8. CALABAR
The eighth of the top 10 cities to launch your business is Calabar. Calabar is located in the Southern part of the country and shares borders with Benue and the Atlantic Ocean, so fish farming and boat making business are profitable here. Other businesses one can start in Calabar include tourism and restaurant businesses, because of the famous local food culture of the state.

kaduna - nigerian SME city9. KADUNA
Located in the Northern part of the country, Kaduna is one of the cities in the Northern part of Nigeria that is home to people from different places. Kaduna is open and lucrative to business ideas and opportunities. The city’s resources range from farming, arts and crafts, and even learning because of the prestigious university located there. In Kaduna there are lots of banks and a refinery amongst other industries. Businesses that are profitable in Kaduna include meat processing, livestock farming and consulting services to name a few, hence the selection of this city for our top 10 list of SME-friendly cities.

benin - nigerian SME city10. BENIN
Last, but by no means least on our top 10 list of cities to launch your business is Benin city. It’s located in the Southern part of the country. The Benin economy which revolves around agriculture, crafts, and trade secures its position in our top 10 list. Notable businesses one can launch in Benin are arts and craft studios and cocoa farming, among others.

The top 10 list above was ranked bearing in mind the the population size and dynamics, presence of various strategic businesses and industries, presence of a favorable sociopolitical climate, and the extent of development of infrastructure in these cities.


  1. Nice writeup. I believe this information will be very helpful to entrepreneurs aspiring to establish their SMEs.

    If this is within your scope, i also hope to read about a specific case study of any of the SME businesses you suggested, in any of the states.

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