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LBS: Where budding entrepreneurs meet

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LBS building

With changing times, experts are canvassing a new model of skill acquisition through apprenticeship and mentoring for rapid social-economic development.

Aside the unfriendly business environment, the challenge of power supply, inconsistencies in government policy, high infrastructural deficit and tax regimes, absence of mentoring for budding entrepreneurs contribute to high mortality of business.

Statistics reveal that about 90per cent of start-ups fail, thus, perpetuating gross unemployment. More importantly, most operators of start-ups lack proper mentoring needed to excel before venturing into business.

But the Lagos Business School (LBS) is changing the narrative by exposing entrepreneurs in the country to high-profile players in the sector.

The school recently organised an entrepreneurial training/facility tour of Dangote refinery and live interaction with the Chief Executive, Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote for over 3,000 participants who registered on its entrepreneurial training programme called, the Owner-Manager Programme.

The participants were taken round the ongoing fertilizer and petrochemical company facilities situated in Lekki, for physical observation of infrastructure put in place and to get inspired for possible replication of the feat in the country.

When the refinery is completed, it is expected to produce a single capacity of 650,000barrel per day (bpd), which experts say would be the largest single unit of such project in the world.

Currently, the facility is about 80 per cent procurement completed, and would expectedly create 60,000 direct and indirect jobs for Nigerians.

It would also save an approximated $6billion of Foreign Exchange, and create further earning of $6billion from export. The project according to investigations will as well contribute to food security and sufficiency for the most populous black nation.

The promoter of the project told participants that the refinery is being developed to diversify the resource base of Nigeria. He said the project includes; the fertilizer, petrochemical and refinery plants.

“The refinery will be 1.5 times the capacity of all the existing four refineries in the country even if they are working at 100per cent capacity. This is the single largest refinery in the world. The petrochemical that we have is 13 times bigger than the Eleme Petrochemical built by government”.

Speaking with The Guardian, the academic director for schools’ Owner-Manager program of the LBS, Dr. Henrietta Onwuegbuzie explained that one of the things the institution tries to achieve through the training, tour and interaction with Alhaji Dangote, is to expose participants to opportunities, broaden their minds, encourage and inspire them to great leadership. She revealed that Dangote exemplifies excellence given what he has achieved in the industrial sectors of the country.

According to her, Dangote has turned the country from importer of cement to exporter of the product to other 13 African nations.

“We embark on the tour of Dangote refinery and petrol chemical company located in Lekki-Epe road for the participants of the entrepreneur training to be encouraged to replicate similar thing in the country. If we have 100-people like Dangote, we will be better as a country”, she said.

Onwuegbuzie who also leads sessions in entrepreneurship for MBA and executive program, observed that Nigeria is currently challenged by poor quality of those who are expected to train upcoming entrepreneurs advising that the government needs to urgently introduce the train the trainers programme and advance fund investment in that area.

“Every teacher who is well trained has a multiplier effects for successful outcome. We need to identify training centres and fund them to train the trainers. All the schools involved in entrepreneurship should ensure that people receiving trainings, get the right things through apprenticeship and mentorship, get them certified and then fund them, to be able to start on their own and succeed”, she stated.

She lamented that many people erroneously believed that they need a lot of money to start a business and when efforts to get such money failed, they give up their dream, and seek paid employment only to returned unemployed later.

“The most important ingredient for business success is to create value that is relevant to the market. When you create value, and solutions to problems, people will patronize you”, she posited.

At an interactive session with participants, Alhaji Aliko Dangote who copiously took the students through the activities of his company particularly in the areas of cement, fertilizer, infrastructure and food/agriculture sectors and refinery, among others as well as on how to survive as an entrepreneur disclosed the driving force for the landmark achievements of his companies is aggressive investment in large capacity in focus areas.

He told the participants to avoid businesses, which they could not really explain the processes involved from beginning to end stressing that it was the model that they used, in which the top 10 of them in the company could explain its process from A to Z to make success as an entrepreneur.

According to him, the business environment is quite challenging for would be entrepreneur especially coping with the need for constant power supply and the inconsistent government policy.

For instance, he explained that magic that worked for him was to start generating needed power for his companies to survive.

Alhaji Dangote at the forum also enlighten the student on the company’s plans for training more artisans for the country, its extent of corporate social responsibility to the society, and plans for further investments across Africa.

In recognition of Alhaji Dangotes’ investment strides, participants honoured him with a special gift for his contribution to the growth of business in the continent. He also participated in copious photo-sessions with the participants.

In their remarks, the class president, Owner-Manager Programme (LBS) in Kenya Mrs. Olive Gachora, the Class President, OMP26 (LBS); Chief Ken Omakhaye and Victor Omalu said they have been inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit and humility of Alhaji Dangote despite all that he has achieved in business assuring that they would work harder towards joining the league of best entrepreneurs in the nearest future as well as contribute their quotas to the development of the nation.

“The tour has been an eye-opener, we saw huge projects and facilities built by just one man. We will continue to dream big and act on the vision, take the necessary steps to be like him and replicate what he has done for the country and continent of Africa”, said Omalu, an MBA student.


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