By JOSEPHINE IGBINOVIA
Through the Fate Foundation where she is the Executive Director, Mrs.Osayi Alile-Oruene is unleashing her passion- training young people to be successful entrepreneurs , as a way of reducing the ever increasing number of job-seekers in a society where there are very limited jobs. Vista Woman engaged her in a chat recently. Excerpts:
Spate of poverty
Year in year out, our university graduates trudge the streets endlessly for jobs without realising that the job market cannot accommodate the thousands that graduate every year. What will happen to those that the job market could not take? These are the people that are the concern of Fate Foundation.
Poverty is a major problem in this country, and it’s getting worse. But I think we’re not also coming up with a strategic solution. I blame the various ministries in the country for being detached from one another, but the point is that I sincerely don’t like talking about government all the time since I know that handling a country like Nigeria can never be easy.
On our own part, we go to schools; primary, secondary and university, to train and talk to people. We believe the gospel of enterprise has to be preached because it enables a child that is sitting in a classroom in Akowonjo to say to himself: “I have another option even if I still go to a university. I can train myself in what I have passion for, and profit from that”.
Naturally, Nigerians are enterprising, but most times, we don’t look at it as an option. When you talk to young people that are helping their mothers at the market, they don’t believe they’re being enterprising. They only feel they’re helping their mum.
They do not think of ways in which they themselves could build the business to make it bigger, especially businesses that are so lucrative. If it’s baking that you have a skill in, you could bake and sell or also organize platforms where other people would pay to be taught by you how to bake. We need to identify ways through which we could translate our spirit of enterprise into wealth.
The foundation was founded 11 years ago by Mr.Fola Adeola in his quest to groom people to become successful entrepreneurs. We want people to think outside the box, think of enterprises that they can start, and that can be sustainable.
This is because it is one thing to start a business and it’s another thing to employ other people who can also feed their own families as the business grows.
So far, we’ve trained over a 100,000 young people, teaching them how to start their businesses, access finance and mentors to be able to get practical knowledge from those that are already established.
We have a lot of young people whose businesses we’ve watched grow. Actually, we don’t count the number of businesses that have started, but the number of businesses that have remained successful after two years.
I.5million JAMB candidates
We are a non-profit organisation that believes that we all need to join forces together to change Nigeria. I saw in a national daily recently that we had over 1.5million people sitting for the JAMB examination written a few weeks ago! And you know the university cannot take more than 200,000, so, what happens to the other 1.3million candidates? Even the ones that have graduated from the university still can’t get jobs!
Definitely, having such number of young people idle is a huge threat to the peace and development of any society because an idle mind is the devil’s workshop. All stakeholders, including the relevant government ministries like Youths and Sports, Finance, Women Affairs, etc. should join hands together to see how we could salvage the situation.
Unsupportive educational system
Our educational system and environments are creating problems for us. Because of the way we perceive things, we tend to believe that we all have to go to the university to study professional courses and get employment before we are able to earn a living.
This is why our young people do not want to believe they should learn a trade or vocation as they sit at home waiting for admission into university. We cannot continue to wait for things to get worse before thinking of what to do.
We have access to internet, but instead of using it to study more and do research, we use it solely for social networking sites! If you are interested in whatever field or vocation, there’s so much information you could access on it from the internet.
When you go abroad, you’ll see that people as young as age 13 are already working. So why can’t our people start thinking that way? You could even work as a volunteer in the shop or office of a relation while waiting for admission!
That way, you’re building your spirit. Parents have a role to play in this; they too should learn to encourage children to try their hands on other things rather than sit at home. Vocations like hairdressing, makeup, photography, etc. are there to help them earn a living and get extra skills. Young people really have to harness skills for themselves.
I have interns as young as 12 years old that come to work with us as volunteers during holidays. This also relates to young children helping their mothers in the market after school. Some of us think it is child labour, but do you know these children are growing their entrepreneurial skills? They might not get the advantage of formal education to an extent, but they are able to develop bargaining skills for themselves.
Advice for young people
You just have to keep on trying. Don’t give up because of anybody or government. Find a way to make things work for you. Think outside the box to make something different. Watch people, read more books, learn skills and then train and retrain yourself!
Never say you’re from a disadvantaged background. In fact, I know a lot of people from disadvantaged background that are doing great things today. The truth is, you have to find something within yourself; forget where your family is coming from. One person in a family can change the whole family. It has happened over and over again in history, so, why can’t you be the change your family and society needs? Just make an effort!