Saturday, 23rd September 2023

Stakeholders hail youths’ hustling spirit, advocate innovation to curb unemployment

By Kehinde Olatunji and Taofeek Alli
02 May 2023   |   5:03 am
Despite challenges of high youth unemployment rates in the country, Nigerians have been urged to embrace attitude change and innovative thinking to create opportunities for themselves without waiting for government’s solutions to provide jobs.

Poju Oyemade

• South African entrepreneur says hustling spirit keeps Nigeria economically alive
• Aboyeji: How four Nigerians started Andela from boys quarters
• Attitude an all important factor in achieving set goals, says Oyemade

Despite challenges of high youth unemployment rates in the country, Nigerians have been urged to embrace attitude change and innovative thinking to create opportunities for themselves without waiting for government’s solutions to provide jobs.

Speaking on the theme: ‘Innovating our way into the future,’ at The Platform, an event organised yesterday by a Lagos-based church, Covenant Nation, to mark this year’s Workers Day, panelists urged Nigerians to keep hope of a better tomorrow alive, with or without government’s promises and interventions.

Convener of the programme held at the church’s premises in Iganmu area of Lagos, Poju Oyemade, said the summit and the theme spoke to the core of Nigeria as a nation.

The programme, with speakers from diverse fields, was aimed to shape minds, promote talents and push progressive frontiers for entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs. The summit featured Venture Capitalist, Iyin Aboyeji; Techpreneurs Yvonne Johnson and Chuka Ofili; Dr Ola Brown of Flying Doctor, among many others.

Oyemade emphasised the need to treat people well, noting that one’s attitude towards others would enable one to attain their desired goals.

He noted that no matter gifted one is, there is a people factor in life and if one doesn’t understand that people’s factor, one can destroy everything that God is building in one’s life.

He said: “It’s important you ask for wisdom, when I speak about wisdom, I mean the way you treat other people and your attitude towards others, without learning how to relate with others, managing your emotion and seeking the good of others first, you will struggle to attain your goals.”

A South African entrepreneur, Vusi Thembekwayo, at the event hailed the “hustling spirit” of Nigerians, saying it keeps Nigeria economically alive.

Saying that many other Africans misunderstand Nigerians’ hustling spirit, Thembekwayo urged Nigerians to keep the spirit up. He added that other Africans should rather emulate that spirit.

“If you have not travelled out of your country, you will not be aware that there is this hustling spirit built into your DNA, that oozes out of the red in your blood if you were to cut your skin. It makes up the fundamental part of who you are.

“That hustling spirit is foreign to some of us in other parts of the world, it is so deeply ingrained in who you are that we misunderstand and make enemies out of you. We find you in our markets and our territories and we think you are the enemy rather than learn how you move and do things,” he said.

The South African said that there might be some bad eggs among the many hustling Nigerians but said there is no civilization without a few bad ones.

“Now there are some who will find the bad apples but show me any group, any nation, any civilization or tribe that have no bad apples among them.

“The opportunity for us as Africans is to bridge the gap, to reach across the divide and say what can I learn from my brother in Lagos or in Port Harcourt? So, I arrived at the airport yesterday (Sunday) and immediately we came down, I said we are in the hustler land, get ready for the hustle,” he said.

Thembekwyo further asked Nigerians not to take the hustling spirit they have for granted as it has propelled most of them to top companies around the continent.

“I want to say take not for granted this hustling spirit that keeps your nation alive. You know in every single economy and every single marketplace across the length and breadth of this beautiful continent we call home, if you look for a landmark company changing the terrain, you will find a Nigerian in the top three,” the South African added.


A co-founder of Andela, Iyin Aboyeji, at the summit, revealed that the company, which has grown to become a unicorn, started with four people in a boys-quarters unit. Aboyeji said the company moved to seven places in the space of two years because of lack of resources.

“In 2014, we raised $28 million and that was the year that we started Andela, we were moving. We started in a BQ (boys quarters) on Cameron road, we started with 27 (people), then we whittled down, I think we ended up with four after the selection process.

“Four of us, the Andela that you see everywhere today, four people started it from a BQ. Before that time we were sharing space in CChub. At one point, we did not have the resources, we went to Fadeyi, we were in Fadeyi for a while and we kept moving around like that.

“Just so you know this is where we are coming from, when you hear people raised billions of dollars, unicorns started from corn,” Aboyeji said.

Andela, a global job placement network for software developers, was co-founded in 2014 by Iyin Aboyeji and a few other entrepreneurs. The company is currently valued at over $1.5 billion.

Other speakers shared stories of innovative entrepreneurs leading the way in creating new job opportunities and driving positive change in industries that are shaking up traditional business models and introducing fresh ideas and approaches in businesses, where they are not only generating jobs but also addressing some of society’s most pressing challenges.

The Chief Executive Officer, Parthian Limited, Mrs. Ndidi Ukaonu, said with the increasing number of startups, entrepreneurship is becoming a vital driver of growth and opportunity in Nigeria.

According to her, these talented entrepreneurs are leading the charge towards job creation and economic prosperity in the country. “Entrepreneurs are rapidly emerging as a driving force behind innovation and progress in today’s fast-paced business world.

“These highly motivated individuals are defined by their proactive and action-oriented approach to pursuing new products and services within the confines of their existing organisation.

“Many employees still struggle to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset, many employees also carry the mindset of it is not my father’s job, it’s another man’s dream, let me have my salary. These are not advisable mindsets,” Ukaonu said.


She advised that companies should foster a culture of entrepreneurship by encouraging employees to take the initiative and pursue their innovative ideas, adding that companies can benefit from a more engaged and empowered workforce, while driving meaningful progress and growth.

The founder, Eventful Limited, Yewande Zacchaeus, shared her insights on the importance of clarity and vision when pursuing innovation.

According to her, “having a crystal-clear vision of what you want to achieve and the determination to see it through is the key to successful innovation.”

She added, “When I left the banking sector, people called me and said you are leaving the banking sector to start arranging chairs at events; today I am doing extremely fine.”

A banker, Gbolahon Joshua, highlighted the importance of remaining open-minded and receptive to new ideas and opportunities to drive progress and growth in industries.

“As an innovator, you need to always look out for opportunities. The telecom companies came by providing text and voice and banks are giving loans and deposits, a text message was created so that people can communicate cheaply.

“Another innovator came and said we can do second billing, the bank created a mobile app, another innovator said not only people with smartphones should have access to banking, USSD was created” these are levels at which individuals can create opportunities.

“As Nigeria continues to experience rapid economic growth, embracing new ideas and approaches and fostering a culture of innovation across all sectors of society is becoming increasingly essential,” he added.