The solution to the current social-economic situation in the country and the continent is the need for a generation of ground breaking, resilient and adaptable young people.
Executive Director, FAMFA Oil, Folorunsho Alakija, stated this at the weekend, during the Grand Finale of Africa’s Young Entrepreneurs Empowerment Nigeria (AYEEN) 2016, in Lagos.
She said there is need for youths that can create a great future at the award and celebrate 500 AYEEN beneficiaries.
AYEEN identifies and empowers the most innovative solutions and economically viable businesses that have the potential and passion in converting the present level of their business to becoming ‘the next big thing’ in Africa regardless of the sector.
Alakija, who is AYE’s Chief Executive Matron, noted that the transition from education to employment has become a matter of luck and sometimes ‘who you know’. She said private entrepreneurship is the only solution that guarantees the progress of youths and the economy.
“If we give youths the opportunity the future is going to be bright,” she said.
She said AYEEN and its programs remains the foremost entrepreneurship programme in Africa, adding that thousands of business owned by its members has benefited from grants including financial literacy programs, specialised skills training, soft loans from financial partners and structural support.
She said the 500 beneficiaries have showcased the characteristics of innovation, passion and research in their business fortunes.
She encouraged the beneficiaries to challenge themselves by being relevant and dynamic in the face of the current recession.
“Use your God given favours to change the lives of others through job creation. We will continue to monitor your business progress and render the necessary support,” she said.
She added that the beneficiaries should not take likely what they have being empowered with, but should use it judiciously, be focused, look and plan ahead, and not mess around.
She urged them to touch the lives of others by setting up businesses that will enable them to give back to the society. “They must work hard, build on and enlarge the money, make the best and the most of it,” she said.
Alakija noted that the scale of the African and Nigerian challenges is large, saying that effective collaboration is needed to ensure a sustainable entrepreneurship future.
She said this year’s AYEEN programme has experienced a massive turn out of entrepreneurs from Borno state, noting that despite their challenges of terrorism and internal displacement, they had the courage to apply and request for support.
According to her, AYEEN has extended its mandate from entrepreneurship to include humanitarian support by the launch of ’empower Borno project’ in partnership with the Borno state government.
She said the initiative would drive entrepreneurship evolvement in the state and change the state of violence. She urged all to support the initiative.
President/ Founder Africa’s Young Entrepreneurs (AYE), Smart Francis, said the beneficiaries will turn around and transform the economy of the country to drive us out of the current economic recession.
According to him, entrepreneurs are the strength of Nigeria. “We must use our strength to overcome our weakness; Nigeria has determined entrepreneurs and they must put in energy to develop the nation.”
He urged government to make entrepreneurship activity its priority, saying it is something that can transform a nation.
“Government needs to create a system that is friendly to entrepreneurs and one that will enable them strive.”
He appealed to government and other organisations to partner with AYE to enable them do more.
He urged entrepreneurs never to give up, adding that if they fail, they should move on because challenges will come and go.
He said the beneficiaries are given the grants in different sessions, adding that there is no limit to what amount can be given as grant but it depends on what the business is about and how much is needed.
He said the business must be innovative, have the ability to move Nigeria forward and create jobs.
AYE Vice President, Ibada Ahmed said AYEEN identifies exceptional innovations in the African continent and source for innovative, dynamic and economically viable businesses. She said the 500 beneficiaries would create more jobs in Nigeria.