Encouraging Youth Entrepreneurship
150 million individuals should be every entrepreneur’s paradise. Nigeria has however created a hostile environment that is unfavourable for youth to achieve entrepreneurial success.
No doubt, the government has gone a long way to encourage entrepreneurship and has implemented some programmes to aid young Nigerians create jobs for themselves and also support their businesses. However these programmes have very little impact. Take for example the YOUWIN Programme, the flagship youth entrepreneurship programme of the last administration. The programme has only celebrated 1,200 awardees since its inception about three years ago. The figure, broken down, comes to 400 awardees a year with only a minor percentage below 30 years of age. There are around 80 million youths in Nigeria today with approximately 50 percent of that number unemployed. If the government carries on at that pace, it will probably solve the problem of unemployment in the next 50,000 years assuming there are even 20 million unemployed youths in Nigeria!
The country needs a much bigger programme that will accommodate a much larger percentage of the Nigerian young entrepreneurs. There are other programmes that are already ongoing such as the Bank of Industry loans and the Central Bank of Nigeria’s intervention funds for entrepreneurs. The problem with these programmes is that they prioritize only women and agro-businesses. Many of our talented youths today are into several other businesses such as retail, food, fashion and even real estate and they also equally require the same financial assistance from the government.
We live in the most dynamic period in Nigerian history; the richest black man and the richest black woman in the world are both of Nigerian heritage. The youth are beginning to convert their excuses in to productive means and should be encouraged; the government needs to do more. The Muhammadu Buhari-led administration seems eager to promote youth development and also create jobs. It should bear in mind that this cannot happen without aligning its programme with those of the states. It will be impossible to implement an effective umbrella programme run from one office somewhere in the federal capital territory in a country with our population.
Imagine the raw talents we have in Aba and what they can achieve with proper guidance and encouragement. Entrepreneurship and innovation courses should be taught right from secondary schools as it is key to our economic survival.
I do not see how the government can employ all the 80 million or so unemployed Nigerians. Unfortunately those are the standards we have created for ourselves waiting for the government to provide jobs for us! The first thing that comes to the mind of a student on leaving the university is which is the juiciest government agency they can work for?
There is no security in government jobs; if in doubt, try interviewing retired civil servants. The youth must be encouraged; they cannot be confined to a failed process.
Written by Aliyu B.Y Abubakar