Kehinde Olagbenjo is a young Nigerian with youth passion at heart. His interest in youth development has led him embark on several youth programmes that empower them. He is the President of TLIG AFRIA FOUNDATION, Managing Partner KDW Media Limited, Host of TLIG Africa Business Show on Radio Continental 102.3fm every Tuesday on TV. Publisher of TLIG AFRIA MAGAZINE. In this interview with Moses Nosike, he discussed the importance of youth development, education and skill acquisition and its challenges in Nigeria. Olagbenjo has won Nigerian Entrepreneurship Recognition Awards as the most outstanding website designer of year 2012, Success Digest Enterprise Award, young entrepreneur of the year. Excerpts:
Who is to blame on poor empowerment of youths that have resulted in high rate of unemployment in the society?
There are some categories of people responsible for this problem. First, the Government. I tell you, no nation will grow beyond the strength of its leadership. So, government plays a major role in job creation to reduce unemployment. It will be difficult for a nation to progress with bad leadership. For Nigerian economy to grow we need visionary and selfless leaders. We need leaders that will come up with good programmes, good initiatives that would promote business opportunities for the youths as that will go a long way positioning them for future and greater achievements. Again, our educational system is not helping matters. The system is only training our students to go to school, get a good grade and get a good job, but this mentality is not working. The question is who will create the job. The dilemma today is that we have a lot of people who want to be employed but few companies can employ them. And a great number of our graduates who want to be employed are not employable. It is one thing to be unemployed and another thing to be unemployable.
Practical entrepreneurship training must be taken seriously in our institution for our economy to grow.
Also a lot of parents want their children to go to school, get a good grade in order to get a good job in banks, oil companies and so on. Many young people have been encouraged to follow the rat race. Some of our parents know that the rat race method did not favour them yet they want their children to follow the same way. So they never encouraged their children to go to school in order to become an entrepreneur and this has killed the zeal of the children who want to become or ought to be entrepreneurs. Parent should not only train or raise job seekers but also encourage entrepreneurial spirit among their children.
Nigeria financial institution: The truth remains that business owners need financial institutions to grow their businesses because of their role in economy development. But we are in a country where banks only give money to some set of people while they neglect small and medium epterises. Few years ago CBN released the names of big business and strong men in the country owing the banks billions of Naira and the bad part of it is that many of them don’t want to pay back. Yet there are many small business owners with good business ideas that can contribute immensely to the growth of Nigeria economy if given soft loans to operate.
Individual: Our youths should understand that they are responsible for their lives and destiny. Even if the government, church or mosque, parents, banks and school did little or nothing for their future, they should help themselves. Those who excel in life have limitations but they turn it into opportunities. They turn obstacles into opportunities and they never blame anyone for their failure. There are many without parents yet they made it. There are many without the help of government, banks, and so on yet they excel. There are many dropped out who are now controlling businesses worth millions of Naira because they never allowed their limitation to hold them down.
Must every youth be educated before performing well in business?
I am sure you are not referring to the kind of education we are getting at our schools today because our institutions are responsible for unemployment in Nigeria. They lack practical entrepreneurship development programmes in the Nigerian educational system. And because of this less than 10% of Nigeria graduates can draft a winning business plan let alone to build a technology that can advance our society. Those who get professionals to write for them cannot defend it before their potential investors.
My definition of education is getting the right information you need to fulfill your purpose or dream in life. For an entrepreneur, education is getting the right information or skill that helps you succeed.
Any education you receive that makes you unproductive is not an education. The reason we have millions of people looking for jobs after spending about 6 years in the university is the kind of education given to them cannot challenge their minds to be creative. Their minds have been programmed to get a good grade in order to get a good job. Also, because most of our lecturers are not business owners, it will be difficult for them to raise entrepreneurs since you can’t give what you don’t have. The best form of education is personal development.
Every aspiring entrepreneur should learn from successful entrepreneurs either through books, seminar/training or mentoring. You will get to your destination on time if you learn from the experts. Study how they made it.
How do we promote small and medium enterprises since government cannot employ everybody?
The benefit of entrepreneurship development programme in any nation cannot be over emphasised. They reduce the rate of unemployment and provide jobs to the people. It also helps an economy of any nation to grow and flourish. Governments play a major role in job creation and entrepreneurship development. Though we must understand that it is not the duty of the government to create jobs but they are saddled to create an enabling environment for businesses to succeed. It is the responsibility of the government to provide good roads, light, water, security, infrastructure and strong ITC and so on for the economy to flourish.
Unfortunate these facilities that help businesses to grow in Nigeria are not available. Companies in Nigeria provide their light, security, water and so on.