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Isedowo… Empowering entrepreneurs, taming youth unemployment

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The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II (left), an auto mechanic and beneficiary of Isedowo grant, Adeola Olajide and Marketing Director, Nigerian Breweries Plc, Franco Maria Maggi, at the unveiling of Goldberg’s Isedowo, a youth empowerment initiative, at the Ooni’s palace in Ile Ife, Osun State.


In its recent report tagged Unemployment and Under Employment Report from 1st quarter to third quarter 2017, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed that the country’s unemployment rate rose from 14.2% to 18.8% in 2017.

The statistics, which was released late last year, also stated that Nigeria’s labour population increased from 83.9 million in the second quarter to 85.1 million in the third quarter of 2017, a difference of 1.2million in additional workforce, while the total number of people in full-time employment (at least 40 hours a week) declined from 52.7 million in the second quarter 2017 to 51.1 million in third quarters.

In another report by Trading Economics, statistics show that youth unemployment rate in Nigeria increased to 33.10 per cent in the third quarter of 2017 from 29.50 per cent in the second quarter of 2017. According to the report, youth unemployment rate averaged 21.73 per cent from 2014 until 2017, reaching an all time high of 33.10 per cent in the third quarter of 2017. Unfortunately, as the youth population grows, so does the unemployment rate.

Meanwhile, unlike in the past when securing white-collar jobs was a big deal, especially among young people, the youths of today seem to fancy being on their own; entrepreneurs! But while most of the educated ones are taking advantage of government policies and schemes to assess funds for their ventures, the least educated, especially artisans are still struggling to make ends meet due to lack of adequate funding.

In a bid to provide financial support for entrepreneurs and artisans in the southwestern part of the country, Nigerian Breweries Plc, through its Goldberg brand came up with the Isedowo empowerment Scheme. The initiative focuses on boosting entrepreneurial craft of youths and start-up businesses in the region by providing them with fund to grow their businesses.

Launched in August 2017, by His Imperial Majesty, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi Ojaja II, at his palace, Isedowo, which received the acknowledgement and endorsement of Southwest monarchs, had the intent of transforming the economic live of young and enterprising people within the region.

Under the theme, Our Handiwork, Our Culture, the project was successfully executed in Osun, Ekiti, Ondo, Oyo and Ogun States, with each of the benefitting artisans and business owners presented with ₦300,000 each to support and expand their operations. In less than 180 days, Isedowo turned 100 artisans, who are skilled in various handiwork and crafts, into celebrities on their march to being successful businessmen and women.

Today, Isedowo has become a household name that resonates with every skilled artisan and small business owner in the region, as the initiative presents an avenue for young entrepreneurs, not only to surge with the provision of grants to empower their businesses, but also have start ups.

Meanwhile, call for entries from entrepreneurs and other skilled manpower for the Isedowo scheme, attracted thousands of business proposals from artisans in the region. After submitting their business proposals, audition and screening followed to filter the best entries in each state. Thereafter, trade visits were conducted to the workshops, farms and offices of the elected business owners before winners were crowned and celebrated in an atmosphere of fun, excitement and all-round entertainment.

Commenting on the empowerment scheme, Emmanuel Agu, Portfolio Manager, Mainstream Lager and Stout Brands at Nigerian Breweries Plc, explained that Goldberg was riding on the platform of Isedowo to demonstrate its passion towards improving the entrepreneurial drive of youths in the Southwest. The initiative, he said, allows the target groups to nurture business ideas that would transform into job opportunities, and in turn better the lot of the region.

“These grants would encourage more businesses to spring up in the region. As we fortify more start-ups with the financial wherewithal to gain solid ground of operations, the beneficiaries would improve the living standards of the Southwest people by creating more jobs and adding value to their communities,” he explained.

Artisans such as cobblers, fashion designers, auto mechanics, generator repairers, farmers (crop and livestock), telephone repairers, bead makers, dry cleaners, panel beaters, and plumbers, and others, have all benefited from the scheme, which will definitely have an impact in the region.

They have been using the grants of N300,000 each to expand their business operations to be able to upscale their manpower and train more artisans that would improve the standard of living in their localities. Some of the beneficiaries revealed that the business grant has helped in adding value to their businesses by using the grants to acquire more machinery and manpower that would expand their work base and in turn bring huge profits.

For instance, Ayodele Adebalogun, an aluminium fabricator, said Isedowo provided a relief from the daunting struggle to raise capital. He disclosed that he participated in the scheme with his wife, who is a caterer, but the judges did not deem her proposal fit enough for selection, adding that, after buying a new cutting machine for his work, he supported his wife’s business with parts of the grant.

“My old cutting machine was faulty and Isedowo was there for me when l needed assistance to replace it. Now, my wife’s catering business is also active again,” he said.

Babatope, an auto mechanic, who holds a certificate in automotive programme from the University of Ibadan, said he bought a launch diagnostic machine used for all brand of cars with the grant.For Tolulope Soremi, a dry cleaner, who commended the initiative, said he would buy a washing machine with the grant, while an elated Folake Sunday Christiana, a caterer, said she would buy an industrial oven for baking about 300 meat-pies and a cutting machine with the grant.

“Isedowo has made 2018 a blessed year for her; I can now run my business with ease,” she said excitedly.Ojo Adeosun, a fashion designer, disclosed that he has started selling fabrics with the grant and now has three apprentices working with him. He informed that said he had been in dire need of capital and when he heard about Isedowo, he decided to send his business proposal for the auditioning and screening processes.

“I commend Goldberg and Nigerian Breweries for boosting my business and the initiative is worth emulating,” Adeosun stated.Kayode Tope Ogunro, a photo/videographer, disclosed that he had almost concluded arrangement to buy a camera and video lights from a friend in Lagos and intended to open a studio with the grant from Isedowo, urging other entrepreneurs to come up with good business ideas with positive impacts on the society.

As the second edition of Isedowo is about to commence, more and more artisans and entrepreneurs are warming up to grab the opportunity to showcase their business ideas and win the grant that would add value to their businesses and help grow local production and improve the lives of the peoples within their areas of operations.


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