Pundits, the world over agree that youth entrepreneurship is key to building up competitiveness in a global and rapidly developing market It has become evident that young entrepreneurs are great contributors and form the backbones of any top-notch economy which is due to their dynamic and fast pace adaptation to a changing market . Because of their capacity to create and develop a modern and flexible knowledge demonstrated in business it has helped to boost entrepreneurial skills of the youths.
Africa’s young entrepreneurs have demonstrated expertise in this regard by building phenomenal businesses that are tackling problems and creating jobs in the process and harnessing entrepreneurial development through national and grassroots talents. With a majority of African nations diversifying from traditional sources of income, entrepreneurship is increasingly seen as a key to economic growth. So far, entrepreneurship has yielded huge returns for entrepreneurs, and according to experts, there lies great untapped potential to drive the African continent into its next phase of development.
Today, entrepreneurship is seen as one of the most sustainable job generation tools in Africa because of the significant impact of young entrepreneurs. One of Africa’s leading entrepreneurship-focused philanthropic organization is the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF). Inspired by Tony Elumelu’s vision to institutionalize and democratize opportunity for a new generation of African entrepreneurs, it has the mission to support entrepreneurs and catalyze entrepreneur-led- development across Africa. To that end, it has implemented one of the most ambitious entrepreneurship programmes globally. The Programme is a 10-yea r, $100 million commitment to identify, train, mentor and fund 10,000 entrepreneurs in 10 years. Its main objective is to invest in businesses that will generate at least 1,000,000 new jobs and contribute at least $10 billion in additional annual revenues across Africa.
On the 25th of October 2018, Tony Elumelu Foundation hosted its 4th edition of the TEF Entrepreneurship forum at the Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island Lagos. The event was adjudged the largest and most profitable gathering of African e nt rep ren eurs. TEF has empowered 4,460 entrepreneurs with a total investment of $20million; 4,000 funded directly by the Foundation and 460 funded by partners. Nigeria unarguably is a fashion powerhouse not only on the African continent, but globally and numerous Nigerian fashion designers have carved a niche for themselves by continuously producing styles of international standard. A 20-year old Corp member serving in Abuja and indigene of Kogi State.
Miss Balogun Adeola Josephine
Miss Balogun Adeola Josephine has demonstrated zest for passion and resilience against all odds by pulling her weight in entrepreneurship. In her quest for a sustainable business, the Micro Biology graduate from the University of Illorin started hat and bag production in 2015 with the sum of 3,000 naira and has grown the business to half a million naira in a space of three years. According to Deola,
“..it has not been easy I started by using instruments of cobblers to make hats because I could not afford to buy one. One thing that kept me going was my belief that Fashion is life, fashion is trend and I see style in everything hence I look out for what stands out in everything because fashion is my passion and Youth Service has given me an opportunity to step out.”
Speaking on the uniqueness of her business, what she hopes to achieve in the nearest future and her advice for other Corp members and Nigerian Youths generally Deola says
“My product brings out the elegant look and African touch in dressing, I must say that Nigerian youths are not lazy at all, we can make it if we take a step…. I will also appreciate if government can support young entrepreneurs with loans or even grants because for me I strongly desire to export my product”.
Mr A. K Okorie
Fashion will not be complete without the mention of Mr A. K Okorie, a 41-year old well- respected Nigerian fashion designer famous for his unique unisex African styles and his super talent in working with patterns and designs that showcases the rich culture and diversity of the Nigerian people. According to him, his interest in fashion began
“ from an early age when I started to seek how to make money through Godly means which led me to read a book ‘ Think and Grow Rich” this book taught me the principles of wealth creation which helped me to fine tune my vision and I came to the conclusion that in life people will forever wear clothes….’ For Mr Okorie being successful in business depends not only on one’s financial status but largely on one’s determination and ability to learn and be focused not minding the challenges life brings. This he sees as a spring board for greater success in business .
I started my business in Aba Abia State in January 2000 with the sum of N12,000; N5,000 was given to me by my mum and N7,000 I raised myself from selling window curtains.. I ventured into the sale of second hand clothes just to boost my capital after generating enough capital I started fashion designing by creating designs and giving to tailors to sew Today I sew all the designs I make.’ Passion and the zeal to succeed is the story of Mr Okorie who registered his business in 2010, broke even in 2012 and currently has 50 staff members in his payroll. Mr Okorie is currently exporting his product outside the shores of Nigeria.
Also, thirty three years old Nigerian-born Temitope Ogunsemo, is the founder of of Krystal Digital, a fast-growing educational technology company that specializes in the creation, development and deployment of customized and service oriented software applications for educational institutions in Nigeria. Founded in 2010 in Lagos, Krystal Digital’s flagship service, MySkool Portal, is a web-based application for School Information Management System. It is Designed for proper storage and documentation of school data, it has been adopted by more than 50 Government-owned secondary schools in Nigeria, and has more than 65,000 active student users. Krystal Digital now has more than 150 employees with annual revenue of more than $3 million.
Nthabiseng Mosia, is a 27 years old South African and Founder of Easy Solar. Nthabiseng Mosia, is also a co-founder and Chief Financial Officer of Azimuth, known locally as Easy Solar. Easy Solar is an enterprise with a social mission to make clean energy affordable to off-grid communities in West Africa. Easy Solar distributes and finances affordable, high quality solar-powered devices on a rent- to-own basis enabled by Pay-As- You-Go technology.
The business model is underpinned by a trusted brand built on superior customer service and a network of community-based agents going the last mile, to ensure solar reaches a wide range of customers. This business currently operates in Sierra Leone, where more than 87 percent of its 7 million population live without electricity. Since it commenced operations in 2016, Easy Solar has provided electricity to over 40,000 people in the country. The company has 35 employees and 40 agents, with points of sales across eight of Sierra Leone’s sixteen.
Oluwatobi Ajayi, 30, is a cofounder and CEO of Jetvan Automobiles Limited, the largest authorized dealer of Mercedes- Benz Sprinter in Nigeria. He started his career at Mercedes- Benz Nigeria where he became the Head of division (Commercial vans) at the age of 24. In 2015, he pulled together a group of investors and founded Jetvan which sells more than 500 vehicles every year.
These individuals in their different spheres have contributed significantly to the economy of Africa and have demonstrated that youth entrepreneurs possess the relevant entrepreneurial skills to develop their countries through entrepreneurship.