It just dawned on me that it has been 20 years since I ventured into the world of entrepreneurship as a young funky teenage undergraduate with a group of friends.
We were untamed, wildly adventurous about our beliefs, completely encapsulated in a raging passion to do what the likes of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, etc. had done.
In the process, we experienced our share of how Africa emasculates the aspirations of its teeming youth. We were beaten, trodden upon, our self-esteem crushed, and on several occasions, rejected for daring to think this way by all and sundry. But with all these, it has not deterred us from our once conceived ambition of building corporations.
The fact remains that the only hope of this continent, particularly Nigeria, to compete favourably with other advanced nations of the world is for us to build a strong and vibrant entrepreneurial base.
We need to totally decimate the culture of massive job hunting and begin putting our gifts/skills into productive and commercial use.
I always use this analogy to buttress this point in seminars:
Let us take 120 Higher Institutions of learning in the country and assume averagely, 1500 students graduate from each and are deployed for the annual National Youth Service Corps programme. So at the end of the year, you have about 180,000 young Nigerians ready for the marketplace. Multiply that number by 5, you will have 900,000 youths entering the job market within 5 years.
My question is always this: ‘where are they all going to be employed’?; with the National Bureau of Statistics reporting that Nigeria’s unemployment rate increased from 18.8 per cent in the third quarter of 2017 to 23.1 per cent in the third quarter of 2018. Besides, no single company in the country has an employment base of 100,000 staff. This last point is underlined by a tweet in 2014 by the former Vice-President of Nigeria, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, in which he stated that he is the largest employer of labour in the country with a staff strength of 'only' 50,000 people.
Hopefully, you see my point! The future of our nation lies in us believing in ourselves enough, to trade with our inherent talent, develop cutting edge skills, create support systems around these enterprises, and engage with a legacy consciousness, as part of the strategic tool in achieving a robust economy.
Believe me, a private sector comprising of a large turn-out of start-ups is our only true hope of an economic revival that will startle the rest of the world and give us that competitive advantage.