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We should teach our children about investment early in life — Vincent-Obi

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Juliet Vincent-Obi is not only passionate about children but a firm believer of ‘catch them young’ and ‘equip the child early in life.’ The founder of Kidpreneur Africa invested hugely to ensure children, who are not necessarily her biological children, are well motivated to reach their goals. Though, as a child, she never had the opportunity to live her dream, growing up she found herself developing the love for mentoring children and adults to be strong and to solve their own problems.

How was the beginning like? “I came from a home, where my father was not interested in the girl child education; he believed the girl child will marry and forget the family. My mother was everything opposite of that; she promised to train me to any level I wanted to go, but died, while I was still struggling to secure admission into the university,” she said.

Not giving in to fate, Vincent-Obi summoned the courage and began to teach children; teaching them how to read, write and to carry out vocational duties. “I started teaching early in life at Aba in Abia State. I started a coaching class with a challenged child from where I developed the idea that ‘there is ability in disability. The child did so well, performing different academic works to the admiration of the parents and that gave me the encouragement to do more,” she disclosed.

With this achievement, the then kid teacher did not know that Providence has decreed she should become a teacher, although she had her eyes on the nursing profession. But growing up, Vincent-Obi realised her gifts and picked up a teaching job from where she honed her skills and furthered her education in the university.

Thereafter, she went back to what she liked doing best, empowering people, especially children to live their dreams. According to her, she has to set up Kidpreneur Africa to provide a platform for children to identify and hone their skills. “I did not get this type of opportunity while growing up, so, I want children around me to have it. The capacity building programmes and projects of Kidpreneur Africa are designed to inspire, empower and mentor kids in the age brackets of six to12, to become entrepreneurs, create and run their own businesses early, so that they can be financially responsible and also fulfilled.

Vincent-Obi revealed that through the platform, she has helped over a thousand kids to develop a problem-solving mindset, establish and run their own small businesses. Some of these kids, she noted have been featured in both the local and international radio and TV stations, including BBC.

Is it really necessary to teach kids entrepreneurship and business skills now? “Yes,” she said, “with the high rate of unemployment in Nigeria and Africa, especially when some labour organisations have predicted that in the next five years more than 40 per cent of workers in the African continent will work on freelance basis, part-time, contract or otherwise self-employed, it becomes pertinent to begin now and also to catch them young.

“When most of us chose our courses in the tertiary institutions, we made that decisions based on what we knew existed at the time in the labour market. We chose to be educators, medical doctors, lawyers, engineers, bankers, among others. A decade or two after that, we can all see that the career landscape has changed so drastically that new definitions are now needed to do some jobs. So, no matter what your kids would be in future, he/she needs skills that would equip him/her to be relevant in the changing world and to compete with others. We need to pay special attention in building these children, who are our next generation of leaders,” she said.

Vincent-Obi noted that there are many useful tips for surviving this world, which schools will never teach anybody, but one could only learn during mentorship periods because they will be useful for the children in any of their chosen fields. She added that teaching them about business early is rather opening them to the realities of life.

For those still finding it hard to come to terms with her ideas of kid entrepreneurship, the children mentor wants them to know that entrepreneurship is not all about business, but also being able to develop the ability to solve problems in the society and making money to flow in place of value. “We train children to begin to see the problem in the society and then work out possible solutions for them. It is only when you begin to proffer solutions to problems that money can flow in. So, we should develop our children to solve problems rather than making them part of the problems,” she noted.

Top of form bottom of FormShe disclosed that in the U.S. and China many families have family and cottage businesses, which is why their economies are opening up, adding that if Nigeria must grow its economy, parents need to start raising kids that will be tomorrow business heads. Would this not amount to encouraging child labour? “No, it is not child labour because the child is doing what he/she likes. It would only be child labour when there is a force and when you deny him/her all that is necessary for him/her to develop into a useful and responsible adult. We mentor children based on their gifts. For instance, when you groom a child that loves playing piano/ keyboard to do it more skillful, of which he/she could use the knowledge to make money in the future, are you then forcing the child? The answer is no because the child loves what he/she is doing,” she said.

According to her, some parents have caught the bug of their kids becoming entrepreneurs and on their own, bring their children for mentoring during their long break or at weekends. The idea, according to Vincent-Obi is to deemphasise paper qualifications and to make a child acquire skills and have a complete education. Complete education, she disclosed, is about using the three domains of learning — cognitive (thinking), affective (emotion/feeling) and psychomotor (physical/kinesthetic). She observed that in the Nigerian educational system, attention is paid more on the cognitive at the expense of the other domains, adding that no nation develops with this type of arrangement.

Vincent-Obi, however, noted that educationists in the country are now beginning to talk about this arrangement, which informed the inclusion of arts and music into the school curriculum. “This is so because they have realised that the psychomotor and the affective domains are missing and now want to correct it. This will further make the child to be creative and also begin to think of business because once a child’s talent is noticed, the next stage will be how he/she would turn such gifts or passions into money. We should teach our children about investment and not only how to spend money because a man of multiple expenditures needs a multiple incomes,” she said.

The head of Kidpreneur Africa disclosed that many parents are afraid that allowing their kids to engage in business early would distract them from going to school. She said this is not true, adding that getting involved in such part-time vocation would make them develop attitudes the school system cannot offer.

She said: “A woman once asked me to tell her the correlation between her child that wants to be a medical doctor and the hair dressing vocation she is currently engaged in. I simply said there are some salient skills she will get from hair dressing, which will boost her medical studies. For instance, sitting to make someone’s hair involves detailing and patience, which she could put to good use in medicine while treating patients. So, the child is gradually building skills that would help him/her in the future. Parents should allow their children to participate in vocations at their idle times, instead of playing away their time.”


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Juliet Vincent-Obi
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