Lagos’ Quest To Raise Young Entrepreneurs
Master Adeola Shobowale, 18, a student of Government Technical College, Agidingbi, came to the NECA House, Alausa, Ikeja in Lagos, southwest Nigeria, a confused young man. He has just graduated from the college and came to the NECA House for the Enterprise Day aimed at sensitising and building young entrepreneurs. The reality of facing the unemployment market was staring him in the face, so he was confused. He has bright ideas of what he wants to do to earn a living after leaving the college, but the fund to start up his dream project seems elusive.
His heart soared when the State Government announced that all students who graduated from technical colleges in the state would be given a take-off loan to start their own businesses. The Lagos State Micro-Finance Institution, LASMI, is the institution to grant this single digit loan, meaning no interest would be paid on the loan.
Cross Sections of the Participants at the Enterprise Day of Lagos State Technical and Vocational Education Board, at NECA House, Alausa, Ikeja….yesterday 23-07-14
According to him: “I came to the enterprise day confused, but I have hope now. My plan is to be an entrepreneur of global brand. This forum has equipped me with the necessary tips to realise my long-term dream.” He had completed his programme in electrical installation and engineering. Also, he had undergone training organised by FATE Foundation, which he said, had helped to master the procedure of writing a business plan. Now, he said, the next stage is to start building his business and keep developing capacity in his area of specialisation, which he said, would rank among the best in the next five years.
Shobowale is one of the students whose dream was brought to reality after attending the Enterprise Day. The Enterprise Day is an annual event aimed at promoting networking of successful entrepreneurs with young aspiring entrepreneurs from the technical colleges in a one-day open interactive forum. The enterprise day was organised by the Lagos State Technical and Vocational Education Board (LASTVEB) under the leadership of Mr. Olawumi Gasper. The programme is designed to develop a new generation of entrepreneurs.
At the NECA Building Auditorium on 23 July, 2014, successful entrepreneurs were invited to speak to the students and lift their spirit. The hall was filled to capacity with graduating students of the five technical colleges in Lagos. Over 1,000 students thronged the hall as they eagerly awaited the kick-off of the programme, which is the second in the series. Apparently, most of the students came in search of antidotes to Nigeria’s socio-economic realities, which often cripple businesses and undermine dreams of potential entrepreneurs.
•L-R: International Motivational Speaker, Prof. Connel McBride Snr; Lagos State Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Olayinka Oladunjoye; and the Deputy Governor, Mrs. Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire at the event
The theme of this year’s Enterprise Day was Technical and Vocational Skills as a Gateway for Enterprise Development. The theme was apt in the sense that acquiring technical and vocational skills is the way to becoming self-reliant and creating jobs in an economy where ‘white collar’ jobs are becoming a scarce commodity, with the attendant effect of a bloated unemployment market.
Eventually, the graduating students left the NECA House, with renewed vision and vigour after the guest speakers which included the President of McBride Research Laboratories, Mr. Cornell McBride; Chief Executive Officer of Ruff ‘n’ Tumble, Mrs. Adenike Ogunlesi and Founding Partner of Red Media Africa, Mr. Adebola Williams, among others, shared their experience of rejection and success.
In their messages, all the guest speakers, mainly McBride, Ogunlesi and Williams, understood why they wanted business empires of their own at the inception, but were confronted with the stark realities of how to get it done. For McBride, it was an urgent need to break from the past and the passion to venture into what would add value to humanity that brought him into entrepreneurship.
•L-R: Deputy Governor, Mrs. Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire; Special Adviser to the Governor on Commerce and Industry, Mr. Seye Oladejo; and Managing Director, Ruff and Tumble Limited, Mrs. Adenike Ogunlesi, at the event.
McBride, an American entrepreneur, reeled out some elements, which he said, were critical to the success of entrepreneurs irrespective of the environment and location they found themselves. He, first, told them the place of conviction, without which he said, it might be difficult to realise their goals and vision.
He pointed out the tenacity to their purpose and vision, which he acknowledged as the basis for building their own business empires. Citing his own example, McBride explained that he knew why he wanted to build a business empire that would outlive him. But he said he did not know how to do it.
He acknowledged that he suffered a lot of disruption along the way and that in spite of what he went through, he did not resign to fate, but that his vision kept on driving him until he realised his ambition. McBride emphasised the need for humility, saying this was what helped him in business and in life.
“I had to do all kinds of odd jobs to make money. And I was proud of doing those odd jobs, even though I went into the US Army when I relocated to the New York at 24. I later went to College in order to hone my entrepreneurial skill. I am simply a product of humility.”
•L-R: International Motivational Speaker, Prof. Connel McBride Snr; Lagos State Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Olayinka Oladunjoye; Speaker, Mr. Paul Orhijiaka; Deputy Governor, Mrs. Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire; Managing Director, Ruff and Tumble Limited, Mrs. Adenike Ogunlesi; and Special Adviser to the Governor on Commerce and Industry, Mr. Seye Oladejo at the event.
Speaking, Ogunlesi said that one other critical element, which she described as the cornerstone of every successful business was humility, urging the students that if they must build viable business empires, they must imbibe the spirit of professionalism that would required them to set rules and standards that guide the conduct of their business transaction.
Ogunlesi told the story of her life, saying she was indifference her academic pursuit. She said even though she gained admission to undertake law programme at Ahmadu Bello University, Congo Campus, she only managed to spend two weeks on the programme.
Her reasons for quitting, she said, was not because she could not cope with the rigour of academic pursuit, but that she was pursuing what she had passion for rather than mere academic honours, adding that her passion gave birth to Ruff ‘n’ Tumble, now branded an indigenous firm with global appeal. According to her, the fact that she chose not to pursue her law degree did not make her illiterate.
Ogunlesi advised the graduating students to take advantage of the incentive which the state government had given to help realise their dreams and visions.
Also, Adebola Williams, founding Partner of Red Media Africa encouraged the graduating students to rise up and position themselves as the country’s solution providers rather than liabilities. He said they did not have an excuse not to succeed, citing the right platform and support that the state government has been giving through LASTVEB.
LASTVEB Executive Secretary, Gasper explained the state’s drive of raising a new crop of entrepreneurs, saying that the Enterprise Day was designed to sensitise students of the state’s technical colleges on the need for competence-based education, adding that in the last five years, the technical colleges in the state have already imbibed the entrepreneurial culture as embedded in the curriculum of the technical colleges, adding that vocational skills are sufficiently infused with entrepreneurial elements that have harnessed the power of entrepreneurial competence.
Gasper noted that in the past emphasis was placed on knowledge, skills, qualities, attitude, innovation and creativity among students of the technical colleges in the state, thereby preparing them to become self-reliant and competitive in the new dynamic and globalized world. He added that the state’s entrepreneurship development project of the technical colleges alongside the chosen trade of the students “have no doubt contributed to job creation and acquisition of necessary skills by the graduates towards self-employment. It is noteworthy that the private sector has been in support.”
He said the private sector had really supported the government “to produce high-quality competence with entrepreneurial and technical skills for economic growth, well being of society and creation of long term wealth for individuals. In training them, the spirit of entrepreneurship is continuously being infused into learning, enabling trainees to seek entrepreneurial opportunities leading to success.”
Speaking, Governor Babatunde Fashola, who was represented by the Deputy Governor, Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire said the government is not only developing the entrepreneurial capacity of the technical students, saying that the state government had put in place an arrangement for any graduate of its technical colleges “to access takeoff credit facility.”
The governor said the loans “will be given to the students at single-digit interest rate. Aside, the students are not expected to provide any collateral except that they are not from any of the government owned colleges of education. That is one of the reasons for the establishment of Lagos State Micro Finance Institution (LASMI).”
“The take-off loan from the graduates of the state’s technical colleges will be processed through the LASMI while forms will be provided for the intended students at their various institutions to enable them apply. We have chosen to champion vocational and technical education because it focuses specifically on providing relevant skills while preparing them to be better positioned to develop new enterprises.
“We have not departed from the position that technical and vocational education presents a complementary approach to general education. Our students are given the right opportunity to explore and identify potential career goals and are provided with the resources needed to achieve goals through technical partnership with industry stakeholders,” he added.
Commissioner for Education, Olayinka Oladunjoye said “following the success of the first edition, the second edition is designed to celebrate legacies of successful entrepreneurs while also promoting immense opportunities in youth-led businesses and other entrepreneurial pursuits.”
According to Miss. Mariam Sunday, who graduated from Government Technical College, Epe in Computer Craft, she had been renewed after listening to various speakers at the event, while dreaming of becoming a great entrepreneur in the future.