On youth and entrepreneurial mindset
“The youth should always be our focus of attention because they are the future of the society we all yearn for. If we are the bridge between yesterday and today, they are the bridge between our today and tomorrow.”
— Prof. Jeremiah Ojediran (VC, Bells University of Technology, Ota)
The noble idea of inculcating in our youth a mindset of self-dependence through owning and running their businesses, while still at school is highly commendable. In light of this, the decision by the Bells University Parents Forum (BUPF) to host an annual lecture to address critical issues affecting the students’ all-around development and the larger society is worthy of note. Similarly, it is instructive it chose the topic of “Youth and Entrepreneurial Mindset: Being Self-Sustained” as the seventh in its Annual Seminar series. It is meant to break the odious jinx and the recurring ugly decimal of “certificate and no job” as aptly described by the committed BUPF Chairman, Mr. Rotimi Dosunmu (FCA).
For a country still grappling with startling statistics of the ever-escalating youth unemployment rate, that has jumped from 13.72 per cent (2018) through 13.96 per cent (2019), 14.17 per cent (2020) to an estimated 32.5 per cent in 2021, there is cause for serious concern. Worrisome too is that 62 per cent of such youth population fall into the under – 25 years bracket (www.statista.com).
Compounding these indices is the fact that most entrepreneurs in this same country battle daily with poor electric power supply, widespread decrepit infrastructure including pot-hole-ridden roads and an alarming insecurity situation, threatening to tear the very fabric of the unity of the Nigerian state into shreds!
Ms. Greatness Olorunfemi, a management consultant, motivational speaker and Founder of ‘Greatness Unleashed’ as well as Dr. Stephen Oluwatobi, an acclaimed expert in the areas of entrepreneurship, innovation and Founder of ‘Edustart Global Foundation’ had the task of engaging the students. The critical questions they had to provide credible answers to included who really are the youth? What is an entrepreneurial mindset? How is it sustained? What would you do without being paid for it? How is prosperity created? How is that related to finding solutions to existing problems?
What relationship exists between self-discovery, entrepreneurship and building a start-up?
Interestingly, both Olorunfemi and Oluwatobi began their business ventures by providing free services, of catering and computer training respectively and therefore, knew their onions. Incidentally, the latter was a student who once hated to read but took the important decision to relate well with some brilliant minds, to make the desired change while he was at Covenant University, Ota.
According to the former, who kick-started the lecture, the lecture is meant to provoke the students to move away from their comfort zone and mediocrity mindset and aim to achieve greatness. They should come to terms with the fact that “life is full of problems and the wealthy are those that consistently solve problems and meet needs.”
Similarly, the size of the challenges one is able to provide solutions to would determine one’s earnings. The decisions the students make today would determine how far they would go in life. So, now is the time to wake up to the reality of building a thinking faculty similar to that of billionaires. Oluwatobi emphasises that now is the moment for the students to understand that entrepreneurship begins from the mind. They should, therefore, master the mind to create prosperity and leverage opportunities to do so. Though “ideas rule the world” as often said, it is important to know what you want to achieve with such ideas, when, where and how?
Touching tellingly on this significant aspect, Olurunfemi reiterates the importance of self-sustenance: “Being self-sustained means being able to continue to make wealth consistently without your active involvements.” With that entrepreneurial mindset, you begin to challenge the status quo, rise up above the crowd and find a better way of doing things, instead of listening to those who have capitulated and given up on their dreams and want others to settle for a mediocre status.
Eventually, the students will be able to imagine what impact their revenues would make on the economy of the nation, the number of jobs their businesses would create, the outcome of their implementation and of course, the quantum of families who will benefit, to get their means of livelihood from their actions.
Building on that, Oluwatobi explains that starting up is one of the ways of creating prosperity or building wealth. But the best approach is to have the mindset to take up challenges as raw materials to create prosperity. It takes guts, a unique and exceptional perspective and a level of thinking to see challenges as breakfast.
To succeed at this, the students have to find themselves, have a clear understanding of what they are capable of, muster the desire to experiment and learn and have disrespect for the fear of failure. As Olorunfemi rightly notes, “oh yes, you are ready to fail and fail again but each time you learn from such failures.”
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