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Entrepreneurship as engine of employment generation


Chief Executive Officer of the Ausso Leadership Academy (ALA), Austin Okere

Whose duty it is to provide employment?
For most Nigerians, it is the responsibilities of federal, state and local government council to provide jobs.

The reality is that most state capitals and Abuja, the seat of the Federal Government, harbour less than one percentage of the population on their payrolls.

So, where should be jobs for thousands graduates of tertiary institution come from?
Experts have said to create jobs that would absorb the mass of unemployed persons in the country; government at all levels must create an enabling environment. The natural question to ask is: what is an enabling environment?

In most countries that overcame acute unemployment, there were various incentives that were deliberately created by government to buoy inertia entrepreneurial capabilities.

In today’s world therefore, entrepreneurship has never been more important than it is today in this time of financial crisis. At the same time, society faces massive global challenges that extend well beyond the economy.

Innovation and entrepreneurship provide a way forward for solving the global challenges of the 21stcentury, building sustainable development, creating jobs, generating renewed economic growth and advancing human welfare.

Entrepreneurship can be a societal change agent, a great enabler in all sectors. Not everyone needs to become an entrepreneur to benefit from entrepreneurship but all members of society need to cultivate entrepreneurial spirit.

The public sector, private sector, academia and non-profit sectors all have roles to play in facilitating the development of effective ecosystems that encourage and support the creation of innovative new ventures. Nigeria must create business environments that are conducive to encouraging entrepreneurial ways of thinking and behaving.

Entrepreneurship is a sure way to bringing fulfilment to the aspiration of an individual, and a major weapon to curbing unemployment, poverty and underdevelopment problems in any country.

Consequently, its importance to the economic wellbeing of an individual and family cannot be over-emphasized.

These were the divergent views of experts who spoke with The Guardian on the importance of how entrepreneurship can help alleviate poverty and reduce unemployment rate in the country.

They opined that government at all levels need to create enabling environment for small businesses to thrive while also making necessary infrastructure workable for small businesses to achieve return on investment.

Director of Quality, Partnership and Coordination, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), Dr Friday Okpara, said government should provide the basic environment for small businesses to thrive.

Dr Okpara listed the environment enablement to include access to market, finance modern technology and ensuring that entrepreneurs have incentives for businesses to thrive in the country. Government should also ensure that the bank render loan to them at single digit interest rate.

He said: “And the government should see how they can establish SME banks; they understand the environment and mind-set of the entrepreneurs than some of these commercial banks and development banks.”

He described entrepreneurship as a mind-set, stating that it has to do with identification of opportunities and what to do with the opportunities.

According to him, entrepreneurship has nothing to do with vocation. The government should try as much as possible to see how they can inculcate entrepreneurship right from the primary school, secondary and tertiary institution. In countries like Japan, China and some other countries they try from the beginning from nursery school to ensure that they have entrepreneurial mind, so that they can inculcate entrepreneurship culture into our youths right from the scratch.

Dr Okpara stated that SMEDAN, which is saddled with the responsibility of developing small and medium enterprises, is committed to ensuring that they advance entrepreneurship both at the youth, adult and children level.

Besides, if Nigeria must close its huge employment gap, tackle the scourge of poverty and compete favourably with other economies of the world, political leaders must invest adequately in entrepreneurs who are the real job creators.

According to founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Ausso Leadership Academy (ALA), Austin Okere, the economic fortunes and future of the country is largely dependent on entrepreneurs, who have capacity to create more jobs for the nation’s increasing population.

He therefore reiterated the need for mentorship and entrepreneurship development to efficiently harness the huge potentials.

Okere, who is also the Founder of Computer Warehouse Group Plc. (CWG), spoke recently in Lagos during ALA’s one-year anniversary celebration.

The celebration coincided with the graduation ceremony of its sixth business and entrepreneurship master class cohort.

According to him: “Nigeria has huge human resources but we need to harness it by building a community that is going to be the bedrock of job creation and economic sustenance. We need to invest more on entrepreneurship development and mentorship because the duty for the economic growth of the country is on those of us who create jobs.”

He noted that the strides of the academy in just one year are a validation of its founding purpose, which is to “mentor entrepreneurs to institutionalize and scale their businesses geometrically”.

“Indeed, we are grateful to everyone that had committed themselves to this initiative. Without you, we would not have come this far. And, we count on you in our quest to continue to mentor the giants of today and tomorrow”, he added.

Publisher, Africans Entrepreneur, Ozioma Ubabukoh noted that entrepreneurs occupy the engine room for economic stimulation, saying apart from innovations and home manufacture, they actually stokes the fire of job creation by enlarging opportunities for economic expansion.

He added that through the crucial role it plays, entrepreneurship sees to the development warehousing, shipping, packaging, commercial activities and even skill acquisition.

“This they do by creating avenues to solve the challenges of living and well being of citizens. Entrepreneurs are not restricted to manufacturing; they also facilitate trade through transportation, value-addition as well as in containing the devastating effects of risks through insurance and other ancillary services. Every country that entrepreneurship is lacking manifests the indices of poverty and dependent economy.”

Ubabukoh further advised that training, awareness creation, formulation of right policies to guide entrepreneurs and financial inclusion to address the huge gap of entrepreneur in the country.

“If this is not done, there would be inflation, too much money chasing few goods. Corruption and poverty are the other examples of the implications of unharnessed entrepreneurship potential. There would be too much dependence of young people on elusive white collar jobs, which in turn would breed social vices, including prostitution, armed robbery, kidnapping for ransom among others”, she added.

Also, Chief Executive Officer, CeeJay Beauty Makeover, Chinenye Okpara said any country that is determined to develop its economy must pay attention to entrepreneurship development, as it is a reliable tool for closing the unemployment gaps.

She said governments at all levels should be focused on creating an enabling environment that can aid small and medium business if Nigeria must compete favourably with other economies of the world.

She added: “Government must continuously formulate policies that will create conducive atmosphere for businesses to thrive and encourage growing enterprises. The youths who form the bulk of the active population should be encouraged to think as job creators rather than job hunters. They must be supported to think up new ways to solve problems and not depend on the government to provide all. The entrepreneurship potentials in Nigeria if properly harnessed with its large population and numerous talents can liberate the country from the shackles of poverty”.

As part of its efforts to influence the society for the better, the ALA anniversary cohort launched #Take5toGiveback, an initiative designed to impact grassroots government decision makers through participation in the ALA leadership programmes. Hence, they will be empowered to make growth-enabling regulations and improve the lives of their communities.

In the past year, ALA has mentored about 102 Entrepreneurs, representing 10 major corporates from diverse industry sectors and about 44 medium enterprises.

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