YECO equips youths for the future
Akin Alabi, founder, Nairabet and the author of Big Business, Small Money, recently hosted his yearly Youth Enterprise Conference (YECO), where young and successful entrepreneurs spoke on mentoring and how to begin new businesses.
With Big Business, Small Money, as theme, (the Internet entrepreneur) programme anchored by Alabi, had young people from different walks of life in attendance.
Aside sharing his testimonies, Alabi disclosed that the programme aimed at encouraging youths, adding that instead of aspiring for great height, some rather give excuses why they cannot do move forward.
“If you want something badly, you won’t make excuses,” he said. The Ibadan-born entrepreneur revealed how he had borrowed money to attend a seminar in Lagos. According to him, because he didn’t have a place to stay in Lagos, while the seminar lasted, he went back to Ibadan and was coming from Ibadan to Lagos for the five days it lasted. According to him, “what I learnt in that seminar is what I am using in business today.”
One of the participants said he had gone to Zamfara State for the mandatory National Youth Service Corps and remained there to start a small business, which has paid off. The business entails people booking online for their computers to be repaired and serviced.
Alabi, who was very impressed, gave him a N100,000 cash and booked a return ticket by air for him. One of the speakers, a music producer, Andrew Airelobhegbe, popularly known as Pheelz, Mr. Producer, recalled how his parents wanted him to be a medical doctor and he kept trying, but never passed his exams until his passion for music took over him.
Pheelz encouraged participants never to be afraid of failure, but they should rise whenever they fall. According to him, “when I got into music, I started going to studios begging for jobs and got none, but I never stopped because I knew that was what I wanted to do.”
For people working and making money, but are not happy with what they are doing, he advised them to begin to function in areas of their passion and with time would begin to enjoy their jobs while still making money.
Pheelz also gave the example of music sensation, Olamide who kept trying until he got a record deal that changed his story. “When you have passion, you are not limited by technology, I have made beats with empty cans because I lacked the instrument I needed.”
The business manager of Lyricash, an online music social networking business designed around solutions to music and financial empowerment, Moses Rotimi, advised youths to follow their passion: “When you follow your passion, hardwork becomes a play,” he said. “Passion is what makes you successful.”
During question and answer session, Okafor Benjamin, an aspiring musician, whose stage name is Kings Kid, asked what should be done even after all that was advised and still had not made a head way. To answer the question, Alabi asked if he had a copy of his song and also gave Benjamin an opportunity to perform it.
To the surprise of the young artist trying to find his feet, Alabi gave him a free studio session to prove his mettle. Another comedian, Pencil, simply said there was a level of persistent that even the devil cannot stop you and that only results cancel insults, so there was no backing off in anything they believed in.
Twenty-four years old founder of Oga Venue, an online event venue booking site, also revealed how he began selling watches from his university days and moved to poultry farming and eventually transitioned to what he is doing now.
He said it was not easy, but that there was no room for excuses for anyone who wanted to move forward. Many other people spoke on different experiences, but all hinged on the same thing, passion and persistent.
The convener concluded that his book was about how he began with just N3,500 to become what he is today. “A lot of people come to me to consult for them, but once you read my book you may not need to come to me,” he said.
Owner of Iroko TV, Jason Njoku, bought a thousand copies, and a hotelier Mark Essien picked 250 copies, while the Akin Alabi Foundation supported 50 attendees of this year’s programme on their journey to success by providing them with N100,000 each. This money is to be specifically invested into their business ideas.
The conference has held every last Thursday of March since inception 10 years ago.