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Tackling graduate unemployment through innovation

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Book title: How They Started: Innovative
Nigerian Brands
Author: Kachi Ogbonna
Publisher: MiH Consulting Limited, Lagos
Year of publication: 2016
Pages: 252
Reviewer: Apeh Omede

 

Entrepreneurship has become a major buzz word in Nigeria, and that is not for nothing. Most of us are aware that youth unemployment has gone beyond just an economic problem to also become a social problem. The issues of pipeline vandalism, terrorism, thuggery, electoral violence, kidnapping and sectional agitations are hugely due to the fact that these young ones (majority of them graduates) are not properly engaged.

Those clamouring for entrepreneurship have also come up with different approaches for tackling this, the most notable of them being skill acquisition. Kachi Ogbonna has however done something completely different. As much as he believes in entrepreneurship and skill acquisition, but in his new book, How They Started, he argues that the solution to unemployment in Nigeria must begin with a fundamental mind shift.

He believes that Nigerian youths are talented enough to tap into the numerous opportunities that exist in the country, but they must first of all believe that they can. They must first accept that those opportunities are there because, according to him, no one can feature in a future that he cannot picture.

The author is an entrepreneurship and youth consultant. From his many years of mentoring young entrepreneurs and growing start-ups he discovered that the ‘entitlement mentality’ and the ‘blame game’ has become about the biggest hindrance to the realisation of the full potential of Nigerian youths. He insists that everyone is ultimately responsible for his or her own success or failure.

The author argues that the solution to graduate unemployment in Nigeria is not rocket science. He maintains that if the universities can focus more on how to produce job creators rather than job seekers then unemployment will soon become an issue of the past. He insists that each problem in this country provides a great business opportunity for those who are willing to add value to the society.

In showing how Nigeria has always been a land of opportunities, the author traced how businesses that started decades ago are still waxing strong. He also gave examples of how other businesses that were launched just about four years ago have grown to become multinationals today. He profiled 25 innovative brands cutting across different sectors including technology, the internet, entertainment, learning and development, manufacturing, restaurants, health and transportation.

Through these, he showed that opportunities abound in almost every sector of the Nigerian economy. His efforts in securing one on one interview with the founders of these brands also go a long way to validate the information in the book.

Each of the founders shared their own unique experience of what it takes to start, the challenges faced and how they handled them, how they funded their businesses and, most importantly, every one of them has words of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs.

This book couldn’t have come at a better time than a period when the Nigerian economy has plummeted to an incredible low. It couldn’t have been more appropriate than at this time when the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) recently reported that 4.3 million jobs were lost in just 10 months. Maybe that is just a mere coincidence, yet government and citizens alike will benefit immensely from the latent force of possibilities the book ignites as we seek to drag ourselves out of the present mess.

Perhaps for the first time, someone has embarked on the important task of documenting how Nigerian brands started in a country where there is little or no regard for history (by the way, I heard History has been removed from the Secondary School curriculum) and credible data is difficult to come by. Maybe not for the first time, but in a very unique way, someone has told the story of the best of Nigeria.

It is difficult not to appreciate the difficulty the author must have passed through before the selection of these 25 brands out of the 150 companies that he reported to have researched. However, the more the author attempts to lay down the criteria for such selection, the more some of us are forced to ask if these are the only 25 brands that met those criteria. Also the fact that no company from the agricultural sector was featured means that the book is still a work in progress. I also expect to see another edition of the book possibly dedicated to just the big brands in the banking and oil and gas sectors.

In my opinion, this book provides a very good roadmap for producing a new generation of entrepreneurs who will run the upcoming global brands with roots in Nigeria. It is impossible for me not to recommend this book to both the federal government and National Universities Commission (NUC) as a manual for practical entrepreneurial studies across our higher institutions.

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Arts & Entertainments

Footprints of David Art Academy inaugurates cottage theatre

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The official opening of a Seaside Cottage Theatre, an educational and arts intervention for lessprivileged children living in the coastal area of Bariga, Lagos, by the Footprints of David Art Academy, was no doubt a significant effort at repositioning live theatre in Lagos State. It also brought to the fore, the array of talents that abound in Bariga, in various areas of the performing art.

It was indeed, a bold attempt at promoting not only children theatre but also at stimulating interest in art as well as repositioning Bariga, as a major art community in Lagos. Lauding the initiative, Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, who attended the inauguration of the ‘Seaside Cottage Theatre alongside his wife, said: “It’s not what government can do for theatre, it’s to realise what theatre does for its own existence.”

He described the efforts of the founder of Footprints of David Art Academy, Seun Awobajo, as a “brave, courageous and committed attempt to do something for the community through theatre.” Also in attendance at the event, which was moderated by the Chairman, National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners (NANTAP), Lagos State chapter, Mr. Makinde Adeniran, include accomplished artiste and poet, Mrs. Francesca Emanuel, chairman of Bariga Local Council Development Au-thority (LCDA), Hon. Kolade Alabi, as well as traditional chiefs in Bariga. Also speaking, Emmanuel, urged the audience to support the Footprints of David.

She said: “I felt that I had to support whatever Seun is doing. And the children themselves have really won my heart and I find that I come here, I stay with them, and we talk. When they’re rehearsing, I come, I rehearse with them and I’m glad that these children are progressing day by day. “For years, I’ve been coming to their annual festival where the children would perform (for) a whole week covering so many programmes involving all the children in Bariga.”

On his part, Alabi, in his address, talked about regenerating Bariga, saying Awobajo would be involved in it. “Without me hunting for that talent, Seun came and he is one of the talents that we’re going to make use of,” he said.

Alabi promised to fund salaries for teachers who teach at the centre. Earlier, Awobajo, a writer, theatre director and music composer called for support for the project, noting that aside being a school during the week, the Cottage Theatre doubles as training grounds for the arts on weekends.

He disclosed that the school was started on December 30, 2005 with 14 teachers. However, due to inability to pay the teachers regularly, only three of the teachers remained.

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Arts & Entertainments

Marriage will soon become unfashionable—-Charlyboy

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Charly Boy

Maverick showbiz maestro and activist,Charles Oputa,aka Charlyboy, says marriage union will soon become unfashionable alleging that most men were not prepared for commitment and responsibilities.

The ‘Areafada’, as he is popularly called by fans, stated this on Friday on his Instagram handle: areafada1, while reacting to the social media frenzy on Celebrity blogger, Linda Ikeji’s pregnancy.

He wrote: “Marriage very soon will no longer be fashionable, because most people can’t cope.

“Most young men are just looking for someone to pay their bills,as most good men are already taken.

“A woman desire a very strong man who can take charge and take care.

“Linda has been burnt so many times by useless wayo men parading themselves as prospective husbands.”

Charlyboy had earlier hailed the 37 year old famous spinster, saying she did well for deciding to carry a child even without marriage, as “marriage was not for everyone.”

His position however, attracted mixed reactions with a lot of his followers saying that he was encouraging single motherhood in contrast to his daughters who are married.

Charlyboy, in the post, explained that he supports marriage as he has remained married for almost four decades.

He however noted that being a single mother was better than an abusive marriage.

“I have managed to survive almost 40 years with the same woman, and it is not a tea cup.

“Marriage can only work for two people who understand that it requires a lot of discipline and hard work.

“One of my daughters has been a single mother after leaving a very abusive marriage, and she is the best Mum I know, and doing well for herself.

“It takes two to tango, so people should leave Linda alone and face their lives,” he added

(NAN)

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Arts & Entertainments

Unusual Empire: #BBNaija’s Alex launches YouTube Channel

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Alex Asogwa, 3rd Runner-up BBNaija `Double Wahala’’ known for her dancing and writing skills, has launched her YouTube channel “Alex Unusual Empire.’’

Alex, 22, who is determined to keep her fans entertained, has also released a teaser on the channel.

In the video, the ex-housemate and Television personality preaches positivity., saying: “Peace and positivity is my priority”

“It is okay to be different… The sun is alone and it still shines. I stand for what I beleive. Life is a journey and I choose not to rush mine.”

“Everyone is special. The world has a lot of people but there is something unique about every single person.

“I accept Alexandra Asogwa especially because she is unusual. There can never be another me.”

`I’m building a house where the floor is made of strength, the walls crafted of ambition, the roof, a masterpiece of forgiveness.

“I am building Alex Unusual Empire.” (NAN)

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