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Economic Summit: Building youth empowerment on entrepreneurial skill

By Debo Oladimeji
28 November 2021   |   4:01 am
Nigerian youths have been advised not to let lack of finance be an impediment to their ability to build successful businesses, create wealth and contribute their quota to the society.

Ms Yemisi Ransome-Kuti (left) and Mrs. Solape Hammond

Nigerian youths have been advised not to let lack of finance be an impediment to their ability to build successful businesses, create wealth and contribute their quota to the society. Even much more important in the quest for self-realisation are such other factors as skill, training, continuous learning, being aware of their surroundings and what obtains globally in the business world, among others. The onus is on young Nigerians to ensure they take control of their lives and do the needful to achieve their dreams.

However, meaningful progress in this regard can only be made, when the necessary support is provided by government and relevant stakeholders, including the corporate sector and well-meaning individuals, who have a vital role to play in the process.

This was the core of the message delivered by resource persons and government officials at the first Lagos Island Economic Summit with the theme: Sustainable Youth Engagement and Development, organised by the Lagos State Office of the Sustainable Development Goals and Investment (OSDGI) and Lagos Island Connect (LIC) in Lagos.

The corporate society, especially the big banks that have head offices on Lagos Island, were urged to support Lagos Island youths to become not only more responsible, but also more response-able and equipped to take advantage of the opportunities that abound for those with the right education, skills, attitudes and mindset.

The Chief Executive Officer, FUZU Ltd, Mr. Jussi Hinkkanen, set the tone for the exhaustive conversation, when he argued that youths very often don’t have the role models around them that could provide them with the way forward or they don’t have access to educational system and finance, as ought to be the case. Employers are also not always opening the doors for young ones.

“We need to have all actors come together and start providing youths with the tools they need to activate their growth, and to find their place in the job market…” he said.

On how government could offer support, he used his country, Finland as an example. He explained that some values have been embedded into the society, to ensure that no one is left behind. “This is achieved by providing everyone with equal access to opportunity, as it is not just a matter of resources or money, but also of will.”

However, the Head Account, Total Nigeria, Dr. Wale Olasoji, was of the view that young people don’t have to wait for job opportunities from government or start blaming everybody around them for inability to succeed.

“It is time we took responsibility and see what we can create for ourselves and make for ourselves,” he told his audience. “But we have to do it right, so that many people will not fail. One way to do it right is to learn from people who are doing it right. We don’t have a dearth of successful people in Nigeria. There is always someone to learn from. And when we learn right, when we can build our capacity, we will find that financing will not exactly be a problem. It could be a little challenge, but we will scale that hurdle, and we can go on from there to build successful businesses.”
 
He noted that formal and informal training is important, as entrepreneurs need adequate knowledge to navigate the terrain.

“You learn from people with global business concept. 

Then, you learn how to localise it to ensure that you can play within the space without falling…”
 
In his submission, the GMD-CEO, 7 Star Global Hangar Limited, Chief Isaac David Balami, said: “We are one of the most intelligent, passionate, energetic breeds on earth. We need the coordination, love for national reconciliation, religious tolerance and peaceful coexistence to make this country work. Lagos is the 5th largest economy in Africa, so, whether you like it or not, Lagos is Nigeria. I think that Lagos must lead; the Island must lead. Our youths are wasting away by becoming Yahoo boys and drug addicts, but we can actually arrest that.”
 


He explained that his company, which has the biggest aircraft maintenance centre in West and Central Africa, has also established an institute to build airline locally, as well as train pilots with the right leadership skills. “The whole thing is all about youths,” he said.

Earlier, the co-founder of LIC, Ms Yemisi Ransome-Kuti, said the event was made possible through the support of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration and the Special Adviser, Office of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Investment, Mrs. Solape Hammond, who promoted and collaborated effectively with LIC to actualise the governor’s promise of organising Local Government Economic Summits, beginning with the Lagos Island Summit.

She listed the aims of the initiative to include promotion of the 2km Rule, Youth Centres Enhancement Programmes and Ethics and Values Restoration.

“The Ministry of Youth and Social Development has partnered LIC to initiate several programmes to this effect at the Onikan Youth Centre, as well as Youth Clinics and Youth Hangouts, COVID permitting,” she explained. “The German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) has also partnered LIC to organise Skills Acquisition Programmes at the Youth Centre.”

She explained that partnership with New Nigeria Foundation (NNF), Africa Law Practice Nigeria (ALP), Nigeria Network of NGOs (NNNGO), Cosmopolitan Women’s Club (CWC) and the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Women in Successful Careers (WISCAR) on mentoring young men and women was ongoing.

The Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture, Mrs. Abisola, stressed the need for sustainable youth engagement and development from the local government or community level.

“The youths have to wake up to the fact that their destinies are in their hands,” she said. “At the Ministry of Agriculture, we have programmes to make people become entrepreneurs. Our programmes are tailored towards ensuring that people become business owners. People are employed, we empowered people, we help them, we create the ecosystem for them to thrive and become successful to support their families.”

In her address, the President of Lagos Chamber Of Commerce and Industry, Mrs. Toki Mabogunje, disclosed that the summit sought to promote the economic development of Lagos Island.

“This summit is expected to become a platform for economic discourse that addresses the issues that affect the growth, development and profitability of businesses in the Local Government and proffering solutions to identified challenges…

“Let me commend LIC’s efforts in promoting the concept of the 2km Rule, which is an initiative aimed at growing the local economy through the adoption and execution of a procurement policy and framework, where corporations, businesses and residents are encouraged to purchase their goods and services, as well as recruit needed talents and personnel from within a 2km radius of the location of that corporation, business or resident operating and/or living within Lagos Island.”