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Entrepreneurs Connect… empowering young CEOs


Tonye Cole (middle) and The Young CEOs founder Aigbe Omoregie presnting a cheque to Winifred Onoja at the 2017 Entrepreneurs Connect held at the Oriental Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos.

The Oriental Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos, recently played host to young entrepreneurs, who converged at the upscale hotel for this year’s edition of the Entrepreneurs Connect.

An initiative of The Young CEOs, this year’s event featured seasoned speakers such as the Minister of Information & Culture Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Co Founder of Sahara Group Tonye Cole and representative of Bank of Industry (BoI), who took their turns to educate participants on the best practices in business.

In his remarks, Alhaji Lai Mohammed urged entrepreneurs, particularly young people, to take advantage of opportunities being created by the current administration to boost their investments. Mohammed, who spoke through a representative, informed that the Federal Government, through the Ministry of Finance and other agencies such as the BoI, has created opportunities to support young entrepreneurs and business owners.

In his presentation titled Leveraging Opportunities To grow Your Startup, Tonye Cole shared real life experiences of doing business, urging participants not to relent in their efforts. He also spoke on the importance of teamwork and the need to work with the right people.

“Push your team to the limit; those, who cannot cope will go, you don’t need them. Because they cannot catch your vision, they will just go. If you make the mistake of taking people, who are higher than your vision, they will think they are doing you a favour. So, grow with sense; never promise what you can’t afford,” he said.

While opening their eyes to numerous business opportunities in Nigeria, Cole, however, cautioned, “there’s a lot of money out there, but not every money works for you. You must understand the environment you are operating in. Become a specialist in your own area; it’s not every business that you get involved in. If you want to survive, change the mindset that we are in a harsh environment; there are opportunities everywhere, but don’t just do what everybody is doing,” he added.

Speaking on Credit and Funding For Small Businesses, Michael Agidani of BoI exposed participants to available business opportunities already created by the bank, urging them to always start small.

“A lot of people don’t appreciate starting small. No matter what the idea is, you have to start as little as you can and there’s no perfect time to start. But you need to learn with your own fund; when you take loan to start, it’s always difficult to cope,” he said.

In his address, the initiator of The Young CEOs Aigbe Omoregie informed that the organisation has been at the forefront of youth empowerment, through its programmes and events. He said the aim is to provide grants and mentorship platforms to young men and women to scale their business and command authority in their niche.

“Nigeria in comparison with other West African countries, is by far a bigger economy, with a teaming population of over 210 million and the young unemployed people constitutes a whopping 65 per cent of that number. A large percentage of these young people are willing to work and create new business opportunities in their local communities, but lack access to funding and mentorship from renowned leaders,” he said.

The event featured the official presentation of N200,000 grant each to both Winifred Onoja and Nosakhare Imasuen to support their businesses. Also, Tonye Cole offered N200,000 grants each to four secondary schools that participated in the session, in support of entrepreneurship training in their schools.

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